e-NABLE is a worldwide movement of nearly 5000 tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, artists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and everyday people who just want to make a difference in the lives of others who were born missing a hand or who have lost them due to natural disaster, disease or war. e-NABLE
In the field of medicine, 3D Printing has paved the way for the production of low-cost, customised prosthetic limbs. But in a world where an estimated 30 million people are in need of prosthetic hands, arms or legs, demand still greatly outstrips supply.
Coming to the rescue is e-NABLE, a network of passionate volunteers working together to create free 3D-printed hand and arm prosthetics for those in need.
e-NABLE’s assistive devices may not be full-blown medical prosthetics, but they can provide a functional grip and, for some, they are literally life-changing.
The colourful, fun designs are ideal for children. Although functionality is limited, the impact on confidence can be far-reaching – especially when sporting a Superhero design like the Iron Man hand, or a Barbie-pink Raptor Reloaded!
There’s something about that moment when it goes from a thing I am holding up – to a part of my body .. that’s almost magical. Peregrin Hawthorn, e-NABLE device user
The e-NABLE website supports the 3D mechanical hand ‘maker movement’ and provides a hub for anyone who wishes to be a part of that – from design engineers and 3D print enthusiasts to those seeking a prosthetic limb for themselves, or someone else.
In keeping with the spirit of this movement, e-NABLE offer a range of open-source designs that can be downloaded, adapted and printed anywhere in the world – by anyone.
Wherever possible, e-NABLE directly connects people in need with local volunteers who can help print, assemble and fit the assistive devices. If they have access to a printer, people can also adapt, print and assemble their own e-NABLE device.
E-NABLE was founded by Jon Schull, a Research Scientist at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Henrietta, New York State. Schull had been inspired by a story about two strangers who came together from 10,000 miles apart to create a 3D-printable prosthetic hand device.
Richard Van As, a South African carpenter, had accidentally cut off two of his fingers with a table saw. Unable to afford a full medical prosthesis, Van As contacted Ivan Owen, a prop maker from the US. The two men collaborated remotely to design and develop the hand device.
Owens and Van As then went on to develop a device for a 5-year-old boy who was born without fingers on his right hand. They posted the design and instructions for their Robohand on Thingiverse, a website for sharing digital designs.
As a Research Scientist at RIT, Schull’s interest in developing assistive devices then became the catalyst for e-NABLE – where Ivan Owen now plays a key role as a device designer and educator.
In the past 18 months, e-NABLE has grown into a world-wide movement of nearly 5000 individuals and thinkers in over 30 countries, developing and making devices for children and adults who have wrists but no fingers or elbows with no wrists/hands.
Together they have designed and fabricated 1400 devices – and changed lives.
There are people around the globe, who are 3D-printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of high school students who are making hands for people in their local communities, hundreds of Scout troops working together to assemble hands for children in under served areas around the globe, a group of people that are risking their lives to get these devices onto people in 3rd World countries and new stories every day of parents working with their children to make a hand together. e-NABLE
As an increasing number of university and college based development teams are taking up the e-NABLE design challenge, innovation is moving at a faster pace. As is production of devices, thanks to major drives such as the recent Enabling the Future events organised by educators and community-led groups.
Alongside its volunteers, e-NABLE is supported by sponsors such as Ultimaker.
The Dutch 3D Printer development company has donated $10,000 worth of printers to help e-NABLE create hands for areas around the globe where they are most needed.
New requests for e-NABLE limbs are growing from countries such as Haiti, Mexico, Vietnam, Gaza, Israel, and Syria, and e-NABLE is struggling to keep up with the growing demand.
Having just crossed the 5000 member mark, the non-profit e-NABLE Community Foundation is now developing strategies and seeking donors to nurture and sustain this growing movement.
If you wish to make a donation or become a sponsor – or share technical knowledge and 3D-printing resources – visit the Get Involved page the e-NABLE website.
e-NABLE is an extraordinary organisation, and we hope you will be inspired to share their story with others.
- For full details of the organisation and its work, visit the e-NABLE website >
- Follow e-NABLE on Facebook >
- View great project photos from around the globe on Instagram >
- Get the latest e-NABLE updates on Twitter >
- View an interactive map of international e-NABLE volunteers >
- e-NABLE t-shirt fund-raising campaign >
Recommended videos about e-NABLE
- A concise overview video about e-NABLE – Enabling the Future >
- Jon Schull, founder of e-NABLE, gives a TED talk about e-NABLE >
- A year of Enabling the Future – 2014 >
Image credits: Enabling the Future, KT Crabb, USC 3D4E, Digital Trends, Friends of BNSF
e-NABLE features in the Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment update for April.
- On 27th April 2015