Community of Volunteers Creates 3D-Printed Prosthetic Hands for Children


At last month’s IntraHealth International SwitchPoint conference I had the opportunity to put together a 3D-printed hand with e-Nable, a global community collaborating to make free 3d-printed prosthetic hands available to all who need them.

The hand wasn’t easy to put together and I got nowhere close to finishing, but I learned that through a little ingenuity and modern technology even prosthetic hands can be created and customized for those who don’t have one.

The hands all start with a 3D-printed mobile and are put together by strings and screws by volunteers. The hands are intended for children and adults who have who have wrists but no fingers or elbows with no wrists/hands.

e-Nable Hand
Pieces of a 3D-printed hand. Photo: Jennifer James

The hands are meant to do some everyday tasks like picking things up or holding cups, for example. They are not, however, full medical prosthetic hands.

“At $30-$50, they’re cheap enough that parents can order larger ones as their children grow,” wrote Margarite Nathe for IntraHealth International’s VITAL blog. “The hands are customizable, comfortable, and easy to assemble. And—in perhaps their greatest success—they are beautiful in the eyes of their users (who can choose hands in their favorite colors).”

e-Nable Hand
Fingers of the prosthetic hand. Photo: Jennifer James

e-Nable Hand
Fingers of the prosthetic hand. Photo: Jennifer James

“e-NABLE has delivered hands to some 1,500 children around the world,” Nathe continued. “But now Binkley, Hawthorn, Jon Schull, and Karyn Traphagen want to reach even more children, especially those who don’t have access to the Internet or other resources to connect to e-NABLE.

e-Nable Hand
Fully created and customized e-Nable hand. Photo: Jennifer James
e-Nable Hand
An e-Nable user and collaborator. Photo: Jennifer James

Enable is always looking for new volunteers to help put together the hands. Want to help or even to donate, visit enablingthefuture.org.

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