July 30, 2021
Enabling the Future with a Helping Hand

The e-NABLE Community is made up of ambitious volunteers from around the world who want to make a difference and “Give The World A Helping Hand”. These caring people have come together with a common goal to collaborate on ways to use open-source 3D printable to help improve upper limb assistive devices for those who were born with missing fingers or may have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.

Craftbot is proud to have supported the Hungarian e-NABLE team for a number of years by providing several 3D printers to give those affected an opportunity to live a full life.

How The Movement Began

The e-NABLE movement started randomly in the United States when Ivan and Jen Owen created a spectacular costume for a steampunk event. Part of the costume included an operable robotic hand with hooked fingers. The giant metal hand turned out to be a huge success at the event that Ivan created a short YouTube video to showcase their creation to the world.

The operable „robot hand” with hooked fingers
Source of the picture: https://enablingthefuture.org/about/

Shortly after posting the video, Ivan received an email from Richard, a South African carpenter who had lost his fingers in a work accident, asking if Ivan could make him a functional finger replacement. Richard explained that a single prosthetic finger would cost him around $10,000 US dollars alone and he was unable to pay for that.

As Ivan and Richard were 10,000 miles apart, the cross-continental work began with planning and discussions through Skype and email. Ivan started to further research the world of prostheses and came across a special device (created in 1845 by a dentist named Robert Norman) for a soldier who lost hands in an explosion. Based on his findings, Owen made his first 3D-printed prosthetic which turned out to be so precise that could be used to pick up a coin from the ground.

While this was happening, the Owens started receiving other requests by similar people from around the world who were looking for a similar prosthetic solution. The Owen’s were so moved that they decided to help as many people as possible without profiting from it by uploading the 3D model of the prosthesis online for everyone and anyone to download and print it themselves.
By 2013, a teacher at the Rochester Institute of Technology named Jon Schull found out about this movement for this unique initiative. He decided to create a Google Plus group to help printers and prosthetists connect with each other. Later on, Jon was the first one to come up with the name e NABLE, and tells the story of how an entire community was built from just a single costume creation.

E-NABLE soon became a worldwide organization, and is unique in that it has no official background institution: there is no foundation, no non-governmental organization. The entire community and group work is fueled by a passion to help those affected by the lose of theirs arms and hands.

How 3-D-Printed Prosthetic Hands Are Changing These Kids’ Lives
Source of the video: National Geographic’s YouTube channel

e-NABLE Hungary

Within that same year, Joe Cross established the Hungarian e-NABLE community. The Hungarian group of volunteers shared a similar goal of helping people in need and to help make their dreams come true.

We interviewed one of the volunteers, Krisztián Sztojanov who joined the Hungarian movement at its first year and became the head of it as of its third year. He shared the following: “Companies, corporations, and even individuals frequently want to support us, but we do not accept money for moral reasons. Rather, we ask for their help with supporting us with filament rolls (raw material for 3D printers), providing a place where we can gather, giving us tickets to conferences, or helping us recruit new e-NABLE members.“

One of the main sponsors of the Hungarian e-NABLE community is Craftbot, which provided its award-winning and highly rated 3D printers for this heartwarming cause. The company donated altogether five printers: two Craftbot Plus Pro, one Craftbot XL, one Craftbot Flow IDEX and one Flow IDEX XL 3D printers to help with the prosthetics.
The cooperation between Krisztián and the Craftbot started 5 years ago, when the company first got in touch with him. The partnership turned out to be so successful over the years, that Krisztián became an ambassador in the Hungarian 3D printing sector, and later on for Craftbot as well.
On top of that, 2 years ago Krisztián decided to join the Research & Development team at Craftbot, so now he is a valuable member of the company as well. He works on creating outstanding innovations and providing technological solutions to fulfill the needs of the customers.

The philosophy of e-NABLE is to help everyone within their own capabilities, which means that there are those that prefer to offer a 3D printer, those that help to get the raw material and those that choose to make the models.

e-Nable Hungary stands on conferences and exhibitions with the Craftbot printers
Source of the picture: https://www.facebook.com/givethekidahand

An interesting feature of the e-NABLE Hungary’s operation is that they do not have official channels through which they can find children with limb deficiencies. The people in need usually discover e NABLE by coming across their Facebook page or listening to their presentation at a show.

Usually, the prostheses are the most helpful for those people who are able to move their wrists. However, several other types of prostheses for other limb deficiencies have also been made with the help of e-NABLE Hungary.

“e-NABLE Hungary makes several models, including something called utility hands where different modules can be mounted on different rails. There are versions that allow you to grab a soft drink box, but there are also versions that can hold cards. One of the most interesting design is the LEGO based hand, on which kids can build whatever they want.” – explained Krisztián.

Different types of 3D printed prosthetics made by e-NABLE Hungary
Source of the picture: https://www.facebook.com/givethekidahand

The main issue with traditional prosthetics is that they can cost thousands of dollars and need to be replaced as the children grow. What e-NABLE Hungary wanted to do was create a prosthetic hand cost-effectively (for roughly 5 dollars), not including the working hours as the volunteers are using their free time to help those in need.

The process of putting together the pieces of the 3D printed prosthetics

Entering The Creative World of Super Heroes

According to the volunteers, the best part of the process comes when they start to brainstorm with children about the type, color and theme of their new hand.

Over the last few years, designers were getting more and more creative so they started to model “Super Hero” hands. Many of the children who had upper limb differences would tend to be bullied or felt self-conscious so they would try to hide their hands and arms. Now, with super hero themed hands, they suddenly became the envy of everyone in the class.

Superhero hands of the children
Source of the picture: https://enablingthefuture.org/about/

Krisztián told us that “The boys usually ask for a super hero theme, meanwhile the girls tend to get hedgehogs, teddy bears or cute animals on their prosthetics. Once there was a girl who asked a black and turquoise-colored hand, which became pretty cool looking in the end.”

The prosthesis helps children to accept themselves more: kids can be cruel towards each other, but if a child goes to kindergarten with a ‘robot hand’, he will immediately be the coolest person and everyone wants to play with him.

e-NABLE Hungary also tend to organize regular e-NABLE meetings so the kids can meet.

“I really like seeing the children arrive a little scared but after a short period of time they start to make friends with each other. Another important factor is that they can see other children with upper limb deficiencies which brings them a strong realization that they are not alone.”- added Krisztián

The main benefit of the e-NABLE community is not only to make prostheses for the kids, but also to give them the opportunity to become super heroes!

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