Innovation That Matters

Community matches those with 3D printers to those needing prosthetic hands

Sport & Fitness

E-Nable is a volunteer run network which matches people in need of prosthetic hands with designers and makers who can print them.

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Two years ago we wrote about the break through Open Hand Project, which successfully crowdfunded a working design for a 3D printed, affordable prosthetic hand — aiming to massively reduce the cost of prosthetics for all. Following that same school of thought, our latest spotting is an online community which has the potential to truly transform the lives of some young people. E-nable matches children born without hands or fingers, with a global network of designers and makers, keen to use their equipment and skills to make a difference: designing and producing unique 3D printed prosthetics for kids and other people in need.

Industrially produced prosthetics are incredibly expensive and unaffordable to many of those who need them, but a 3D printed prosthetic hand, with its low-cost materials, can be made for only USD 20 — USD 50. The network, which now has thousands of volunteer members, includes designers, researchers, occupational therapists, engineers, students and families. Volunteers can provide general support or collaborate on specific projects for people who have registered their need on the site. They design, amend and print prosthetic hands using equipment they already have. They can also donate their designs to E-Nable, which creates a free pool of resources that others can access and utilize.


E-Nable, which operates from the US via a Google+ group, has already given away over 800 prosthetics. Some printed from a basic designs like The Cyborg Beast and some adjusted for the individual needs of the user — designs available on the site include Talon Hand, Odysseus Hand and Owen’s Replacement finger. E-Nable now hope to expand their mission outside the US to underserved communities around the world — in December, funded by a grant from Mike Bloomberg, they visited Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Haiti, as a first step to bring their expertise and community-driven project to the developing world.

Are there other projects which could crowdsource volunteers’ skills on complicated projects?



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