Category Archives: Prosthetic Limbs

Ask not what 3D printing can do for you…ask what you can do to transform the world with 3D printing.

Jeremy Simon chats with a visitor to the e-NABLE table at a conference in downtown Chicago.
Jeremy Simon chats with a visitor to the e-NABLE table at a conference in downtown Chicago.

3D printing: a transformative technology

I hear the word “transformative” a lot these days. Last week I had an opportunity to understand in a deeper way exactly what it means to talk about a “transformative technology”.

Jeremy was invited to represent e-NABLE at a public program on 3D printing sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago in partnership with U&I Labs. Jeremy asked if I would like to join him to get a close-up look at some things going on in the field.

David Mosena, President and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry, who introduced the keynote speaker, describes the mission of the Museum as “creating transformative experiences that get people excited about the world around them…”

There’s that word “transformative” again. And yes, a public program on 3D printing is a perfect expression of that mission. The common theme throughout the program was that 3D printing is entering every sector of our economy and lifestyle. It will transform not only the things that surround us and the way we produce them but our way of thinking about them and our world.

e-NABLE prosthetic device display at 3D print conference in downtown Chicago.
e-NABLE prosthetic device display at 3D print conference in downtown Chicago.

3D Printing: redesigning creativity?

After having a chance to meet and talk with people at the forefront of 3D printing projects in many fields of endeavor from e-NABLE’s prosthetics to medicine to robotics to sustainability and more, we enjoyed a presentation from Avi Reichental, President, CEO and Director of 3D Systems, Faculty Chair of Digital Fabrication at Singularity University and a Member of the XPRIZE Foundation innovation board.

Avi focused first on the democratization of manufacturing that 3D printing allows, pointing out the bi-directionality of that process: even as 3D printing creates a new future for us, it returns us to the roots and heritage from which we came.

Those roots ante-date the industrial revolution, going back to a time when everyone was a craftsman. What we lost in the mass production of the industrial revolution is craftsmanship and artisanship. 3D printing opens a door to a return to that as it decentralizes and democratizes industry. Our new craftsmen and artisans are the 3D makers and designers.

This vision is one that began with Chuck Hull of 3D Systems 33 years ago. His idea was to return Detroit to competitiveness as it lost market shares to the Japanese. Chuck had the idea he could work smaller and get to market faster.

This idea of Chuck’s has become a “disruptive exponential technology” that touches everything: shoes, cars, mobile devices, fashion, jet engines, medicine and food to name a few things. It is beginning to influence how we learn, how we teach, how we express ourselves and how we design.

And today we are only at the beginning of this journey! It is a journey that will change our ideas of what is possible as it transforms and disrupts the way we design and manufacture. As recently as 10 or 11 years ago, it wasn’t obvious this would all be possible. Now it is clear that it is. We have an opportunity to mainstream technology through passionate and realistic removal of friction points.

The journey will be shaped by a few trends and ideas. Within the field, the most important catalyst for progress is materials science. Today we have 120 materials from 3D Systems alone with which to print – plastics, nylon, rubber-like materials, ferrous and non-ferrous alloys.

At first we thought the “holy grail” of 3D printing would be mass customization. Now it’s clear the more important opportunity is that we can rethink designs with a complexity and functionality that weren’t possible before. Why? Because complexity and enhanced functionality is free. We no longer have to conform to the requirements of mass production.

Here are just a few benefits of the trends and new ideas emerging from the industry:

  • There isn’t as much waste, and everything is faster and less expensive.
  • Waste can be turned into beautiful objects.
  • It is possible to “get it right” the first time on big projects that cost a lot of money by using 3D modeling.
  • Manufacturing can supply a “need it now” and “fit for me” demand.
  • In medicine, errors are reduced and outcomes improved because of models and reality simulators that allow rehearsals.
  • Kids in classrooms can hold their ideas in their hands.

We are headed toward a ubiquitous 3D lifestyle that will permeate every aspect of our lives. The question isn’t should we get a 3D printer in our home but what room in our home will house the 3D printer!

Yes, there are unintended consequences. One that stands out is the possibility of printing 3D guns. With the democratization of digital craftsmanship, everyone can make things, not just designers and craftsmen. There are questions that must be answered along the way, and there will surely be regulations.

Currently technology and 3D printing are moving at exponential speeds. Regulatory and enforcement platforms are not moving at the same speed. And yet – should we restrict the flow because some misuse technology? We cannot regulate the human condition. We can just begin to educate people in charge of education and law enforcement.

And there are also unimagined consequences as we continue to transform and disrupt the way we think, design and make things. These are the things that are exciting.

Several organizations got a special mention for their work at this point, and e-NABLE was one!

3D Q&A: what are people asking?

Here are some of the questions asked by the audience, and answers from Avi Reichental:

Do you see 3D printing becoming ubiquitous? Yes, as much as the tablet or smart phones in a few years. The possibilities are unlimited as we get away from the need for a supply chain. For the first time in more than a century, we have tools that will allow anyone to start a business.

Will 3D printing replace traditional manufacturing and the jobs associated with it? No. Instead I expect a convergence of additive and subtractive technologies in the same box, a hybridization. I do think we will have to deal with issues of job learning in a massive way…with retraining and repositioning and learning new skills and developing new muscles.

What are some issues you see developing in the regulatory process? We can now do physical photography and 3D scanning for 100s of dollars, so there are questions about the value of an original design. Who owns it? What constitutes counterfeiting? Who can monetize a project? Who is entitled to royalties and revenue sharing arrangements? No one knows. What’s the value of a 20 year patent when technology doubles every year exponentially? These things will probably be tested quickly.

How does energy consumption for traditional manufacturing compare to 3D manufacturing? Studies show up to 40% net benefit in additive manufacturing vs. traditional manufacturing. More studies are needed.

Will one or two technologies begin to dominate? No. There are different machines for different purposes. We can’t look at it as a single crank engine but rather as a toolbox.

Where will the next generation of innovation come from? Each of us has access and tools so can develop digital literacy. 3D print the magic box that your own ideas jump out of: a collaborative device, a creative device, a chance to play and learn, to become an artist or a scientist or maker – create a sandbox of creativity and personalization, that’s the biggest opportunity!

The best question and response of the evening was from an 11 year old young man. He asked, ”What can 3D printing do for me that I can use?” 

The answer? Effectively it was: “Ask not what 3D printing can do for you but what you can do to transform the world with 3D printing.”

Follow us on Twitter (@3dprintingisfun) and like us on Facebook. Subscribe to this blog, or visit us at shop3duniverse.com.

3D Printed Animal Prosthetic Stories: Antidote to the News

TurboRoo

From human to animal prosthetics

If you keep up with the news as I do, you’re likely to have moments when you feel discouraged about the human enterprise on this earth. More and more often I find myself turning off the news and looking for stories about the activities of organizations like e-NABLE.

This great volunteer organization, focused on creating 3D printed prosthetic hands for those who would otherwise not be able to afford them, is transformative in so many ways and at so many levels. It transforms the lives of recipients . . . but it also transforms the lives of makers, offering a way for them to participate directly in improving the lives of others.

Another kind of story that inspires me is about 3D printed prosthetic limbs for animals. Whether making devices for humans or animals, caring people have devoted countless hours to making the lives of our fellow creatures better.

Buttercup

20 stories of animals’ lives transformed through 3D printed prosthetics

There is a growing movement of innovators designing 3D prosthetics for injured animals around the world. Good people who want to “pay it forward” are everywhere, in these cases from a number of locations in the U.S. to Taiwan to Costa Rica to British Columbia.

Here are links to inspiring stories of animals whose lives changed dramatically through 3D printed prosthetics — and of the people who made those changes happen.

Any time I get discouraged, I like to read one of these stories.

And lots more! – https://instagram.com/animalorthocare/

Derby
Derby

Good news about the impact of 3D printing on animals’ lives

Animal lovers and animal rights activists will be happy to know that 3D printing technology may replace drug testing on animals within five years by printing human stem cells.

Vet Consultants in Telemedicine suggest several applications for 3D printing in veterinary medicine including in the areas of orthopedics, vascular surgery and and radiology, oncology and implants and surgical instruments.

So the next time you want to remember that people are capable of great love and caring acts, turn off the news and revisit some of these stories about 3D printed prosthetics for animals, the people who do it and how it helps our animal friends.

Follow us on Twitter (@3dprintingisfun) and like us on Facebook. Subscribe to this blog, or visit us at shop3duniverse.com.

3D Printing Changes Lives

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Last week I had an opportunity to listen in on a presentation Jeremy gave at the Barrington Library. His presentation was part of a “maker” series, focused on 3D printing. It was intended to introduce participants to one very important use for 3D printing: making affordable prosthetic hands.

Jeremy was talking about a volunteer organization with which he is deeply involved, e-NABLE, “A Global Network Of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A ‘Helping Hand.'” In two short years, e-NABLE has grown from a handful of volunteers to 4500 volunteers around the world. People are excited about an opportunity to not only learn a new technology but to see how they can be part of helping others in a big way.

Jeremy often says that 3D printing is transformative. With what I heard and saw at this presentation, I understood what that means. Yes, 3D printing will help those recipients of the prosthetic hands who would not otherwise have them. It will change their lives! It will also change the lives of the “makers” as they are able to reach out to help others in such direct and constructive ways.

3D printing will change relationships as well. It will change relationships between makers and recipients, between people across the world involved in a common project, and between individuals and industry.

Making prosthetic hands is only one small, although very important, part of what 3D printing can do and will be able to do in our lives. It is exemplary, tho.

I am old enough to remember when I first heard of someone purchasing a personal computer. It seemed expensive and . . . well, exotic. I got one myself two or three years later though. I could hardly use it, but I knew there were wonderful possibilities hidden in that metal frame. Still, I couldn’t have imagined then how computers would transform my life.

I remembered those early years of personal computers as I watched people listening to Jeremy’s presentation in the library. For forty minutes, there was not a sound in the room as Jeremy showed slides of kids’ smiling faces receiving their 3D printed hands. You could see their new confidence and their changing perception of themselves. It was great to hear stories about kids going from being picked on to being stars in their schools.

Jeremy told these stories against the backdrop of a technology that is developing daily and a worldwide volunteer community that is developing right along with it.

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People’s questions were insightful, far-ranging and rapid-fire, just one sign of the intensity of their interest and excitement. There were technical questions, practical questions and cultural questions. What’s the best 3D printer? Where do you find parts like the fingertips on the hands (repurposed secretaries’ plastic protective finger tips, included in Enable parts kits). What is the difference between a hand made for an American kid and a hand made for adults in 3rd world and war-torn areas?

I was a latecomer to personal computers. I’m glad I’m not last in line to learn about 3D printing! I can’t wait to see the ways it will change my life. I hope you’ll join me in this adventure.

Follow us on Twitter (@3dprintingisfun) and like us on Facebook. Subscribe to this blog, or visit us at shop3duniverse.com.

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4

For background on this story, please see:


The science fair is over, but Sierra’s adventure continues! As you may recall, having finished her work for the science fair, Sierra still wanted to do more. At her request, I worked with e-NABLE to locate an 8-year old girl in need of a prosthetic hand. Sierra is now helping to build that device for this girl she’s never met!

Also, this is a new design, developed by several e-NABLE volunteers, made specifically for people who have a functional thumb but no fingers. So not only is Sierra making a new hand for another girl, but she’s also helping us to test this new design and is providing valuable feedback from the assembly and testing process.

Today, Sierra was going to be speaking to a large group of teachers in Vermont, as part of a “Make, Create, Learn” event focused on personalized education. Unfortunately, she came down with a bad cold and 102 degree fever yesterday, so she wasn’t able to make it to that event.

I had the honor of being a guest speaker for that event, so I got to talk to 50+ educators who are working to bring more personalized and experience-based education to our schools.

Kate Gagner, Sierra’s teacher, was also there, and had the following to say about Sierra’s project:

“I think Sierra said about 27 words the first six months of school – she’s very, very quiet. But this hand became the unofficial mascot of our classroom. She was a rock star. She had all of this intellectual and social capital because she had designed this project for herself, and it was so innovative and so cool and so engaging, that she just stole the show. It was really great to see.”

While she couldn’t make it to the Make, Create, Learn event, earlier tonight, Sierra was featured on her local news station, WCAX, in Vermont!  Check out this great video:

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http://www.wcax.com/story/26016030/monkton-girl-develops-prosthetic-hands


So let’s review…

Sierra came up with this project idea for exploring possibilities for 3D printed prosthetic devices (for people or animals). She went on to not only make a fully functional prosthetic device, with minimal assistance, but also make another device for someone who actually needs one! Along the way, she has been inspiring people all around her. Her classmates have been inspired. Her teacher and fellow educators have been inspired. I’ve been inspired. Today, that circle of impact broadened considerably, with 50+ other teachers being inspired by her work. Now they’re tweeting about it and sharing it with others.

Sierra is making a real impact that is already spreading far beyond her home town.

Would you like your kids (or your classroom) to be involved in a project like this? Send me an email or give me a call, and I’ll be happy to help you get started!

Email: jeremy (at) 3duniverse (dot) org
Phone: 800-689-4344


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

Give Someone a New Prosthetic Hand for Only $25!

Give someone a hand (literally!) for only $25!

Just click here to contribute…

Here’s how it works:

  1. You purchase one or more $25 donation kits from 3D Universe.
  2. An e-NABLE volunteer 3D prints the parts for a recipient on our waiting list. The cost of 3D printing materials is absorbed by the e-NABLE volunteer and sometimes supported by 3rd party sponsors.
  3. 3D Universe sends a materials kit to the e-NABLE volunteer or the recipient’s family, depending on who is doing the final assembly.
  4. A lucky individual receives a brand new 3D printed prosthetic hand – completely free of charge, thanks to your $25 donation!

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There are lots of people in the world who could use a prosthetic limb but can’t afford one. 3D printing is changing that, as the e-NABLE volunteer organization has demonstrated.

3D Universe wants to make as many free prosthetic limbs for people as we possibly can! Right now, we’re making about one per week. With your help, we can do a lot more than that!

For each one of these reduced-cost kits purchased (for $25 each), 3D Universe will send a materials kit along with all of the 3D printed parts needed to make a prosthetic hand, free of charge, to anyone who needs one!

Sometimes, we’ll produce and assemble the device ourselves, then send it to someone for free. Other times, we’ll send a free materials kit to another e-NABLE volunteer who will produce and assemble the device. And sometimes, the recipient (or the parents) will want to do the assembly themselves, in which case we’ll send the 3D printed parts and assembly materials, then help them through the assembly process. Either way, for your $25 gift, someone will receive a brand new prosthetic limb!

There are no strings attached here, folks! e-NABLE is a group of over 1000 volunteers who donate their time and materials to make 3D printed prosthetic limbs free of charge for anyone who needs them.

Jeremy Simon talks to FOX News about the cost difference between an e-NABLE hand and a $42,000 prosthetic

Want to make a hand for someone yourself? Please consider joining the e-NABLE community. It is a unique and wonderful group to be a part of. Get involved! It’s wonderfully rewarding, and anyone can participate!

1000 Volunteers, Making Free Prosthetic Limbs for Those Who Need Them

“Never underestimate that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

–  Margaret Mead [American Cultural Anthropologist]


Yesterday marked an important milestone for the e-NABLE volunteer community, as the 1000th member joined the group! 1000 people from all over the globe, all making 3D printed prosthetic devices FOR FREE for anyone who needs them. How amazing is that?

e-NABLE’s crowd-sourced, Internet-enabled global network of volunteer designers, technologists, and researchers designs and delivers 3D-printed assistive technology devices to underserved communities around the world. We have already advanced the state of the art in technology and in collaborative pro-social innovation. We believe we can globally scale and generalize our approach.

Upper limb differences accompany up to 1% of live births worldwide. Fingers, hands, and arms are also lost in accidents and armed conflicts.

Traditional prostheses cost tens of thousands of dollars, and insurance coverage in the developing world and for children who will outgrow them are rarely adequate. As a result, physiological, sociological, and psychological development can be impaired and human potential wasted. Our distributed manufacturing model provides local solutions that are inherently sustainable, replacing industrial manufacturing processes with in-place fabrication by end-users with locally-reproducible, recyclable materials.

In less than a year, e-NABLE has grown to over 1000 members, spread around the globe, focused on providing 3-D printed prosthetic hands free of charge to anyone who requests assistance. e-NABLE continues to grow rapidly, currently at a rate of about 20% monthly.

What originally started out as a couple of guys who created something to help one child in need…has grown into a worldwide movement of tinkerers, engineers, 3D print enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, designers, parents, families, artists, students, teachers and people who just want to make a difference.

They are coming together to create, innovate, re-design and give a “Helping hand” to those that need it – whether it is helping to print parts for them, creating a completed device for them or simply helping to guide them as they build one themselves.

There are people around the globe – 3d printing fingers and hands for children they will never meet, classes of high school students who are making hands for children in their local communities, 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.

Come see what it’s all about…

e-NABLE’s web site
e-NABLE’s Facebook page

Ready to volunteer? Just fill out this form to get started.

Looking to obtain a free prosthetic device? Fill out the same form, and someone from the e-NABLE Matching Team will help match you with an e-NABLE volunteer.

An Experiment: Using Dual Extrusion to 3D Print a Plastic Object with a Bronze Shell

I just ordered some of this new bronze filament. It is made up of 80% real powdered bronze. It prints on normal FDM type 3D printers, but after polishing, it looks like actual bronze, as you can see in the photo below.


http://www.3dprinterworld.com/article/bronze-age-colorfabb-bronzefill-3d-printing-material

It looks beautiful, and I can’t wait to try it, but I do have to say – it’s pretty expensive stuff! A 1.5kg spool of it, including DHL shipping to the USA from The Netherlands, was $130. I’ve calculated this to be about 11 times as expensive as an equivalent amount of ABS.

Here’s my math on that:
(Note: I’m not great at math, so let me know if you see anything I missed)


ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.04 g/cm^3
Volume: 960 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 400 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.075 (7.5 cents)

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 1.25 g/cm^3
Volume: 800 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $30
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 330 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.091 (9.1 cents)

bronzeFill  Filament (1.75mm):
Density: 3.9 g/cm^3
Volume: 256 cm^3/kg
Price per kg, including USA shipping: $87
1.75 mm filament length for 1 kg spool: ~ 106 meters
Price per meter, including USA shipping: $0.82

Based on weight, the bronzeFill is only 2.9 times more expensive than ABS. But because the bronzeFill is so dense, a 1kg spool only has about 106 meters of 1.75mm filament on it. So when it comes to how much you can actually print with it, you need to compare cost per meter. Based on that, we have a cost difference of about 11x.


A Bronze 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand??

I personally don’t mind the price if this stuff performs like I hope it will. I’ll just need to use it sparingly.

But I have a special purpose in mind. I know a young lady (in her 20’s) whose dream is to receive a metallic version of a Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthetic hand (she was born without most of her fingers on one hand) and has always had self-confidence issues as a result.

Before coming across bronzeFill, I was looking at ways of 3D printing a Cyborg Beast in ABS and then applying some kind of metallic plating to that after printing to achieve the look she wants. Now, I’m thinking that maybe I can use my dual extruder FlashForge Creator X to print the shells of the parts in bronzeFill and print the infill and supports in PLA (plastic).

I use Simplify3D software, which is one of the few programs that makes this possible. I can choose which extruder to use for the outlines (the shells of each object), the infill, and the support.

I have no idea if this will work, but the bronzeFill seems to be based on a PLA material, so I’m guessing it’s going to be able to stick to the PLA in a dual-extruded print. Even if it doesn’t work, it’ll be a fun experiment!

While discussing the bronzeFill material, someone in the e-NABLE volunteer community recently asked how much it costs to print a Cyborg Beast (how much filament it takes), and how much it would cost if bronzeFill was used.

OK, let’s do some more math…


What does it cost to 3D print an entire Cyborg Beast prosthetic hand?

Assumptions:

  • Using 150% scale (for sizing the parts)
  • 30% infill
  • 10% support infill

ABS Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.12

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $1.98

Cost for an ABS Cyborg Beast print: $5.10
Total cost with assembly materials: $50.10

PLA Plastic Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $3.79

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $2.40

Cost for an PLA Cyborg Beast print: $6.19
Total cost with assembly materials: $51.19

bronzeFill Filament (1.75mm)

Hand parts:
Filament length: 41.6 meters
Material cost: $34.11

Gauntlet (Frankie Flood’s short gauntlet design):
Filament length: 26.4 meters
Material cost: $21.65

Total cost for a bronzeFill Cyborg Beast print: $55.76
Total cost with assembly materials: $100.76


As you can see, when we factor in the cost of assembly materials, we find that a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill would only cost twice as much as one printed in ABS. Not too bad…

However, a hand printed entirely in bronzeFill will weigh close to 1kg, which is way too heavy for a prosthetic hand. That’s what gave me this idea to try printing the shells in bronzeFill and the infill and support in PLA. I’m hoping this will result in a nice bronze outer shell, with the lighter weight PLA material filling in the inside of the parts. I’m guessing this should reduce the overall weight significantly (compared to an all bronzeFill print).

Hopefully, the bronzeFill will arrive soon, as I can’t wait to get started with the experiment! Regardless of the outcome, I’ll post again with the results, including photos and videos.

To purchase bronzeFill, please visit:
http://colorfabb.com/bronzefill

To purchase Simplify3D, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/simplify3d-software

To purchase the assembly materials for a Cyborg Beast, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/e-nable-hand-assembly-materials-kit-cyborg-beast-edition

Shopping with 3D Universe helps support our charitable work, making free 3D printed prosthetic limbs for as many people as we can.

For more information about the e-NABLE volunteer community, or to get involved, please visit:
http://enablingthefuture.org
https://www.facebook.com/enableorganization

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

For background on this, please see:

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2


Time for another update!

Sierra celebrated her 11th birthday yesterday. Happy birthday, Sierra! This is a big week for Sierra – her science fair is coming up this Thursday!

As I showed in Part 2, I sent some 3D printed parts and assembly materials to Sierra, and she was able to assemble a fully functional mechanical hand, with minimal assistance. As a nice surprise, Sierra’s mom recorded the whole assembly process as a time-lapse. I am therefore very pleased to share with you this wonderful video:

2014-06-09 11.29.32 pm

Isn’t it great? I especially love the ice-cream break!

Then, on Thursday, May 29th, I had the opportunity to do a Skype call with Sierra’s entire classroom (14 students). These kids asked the most amazing questions. So intelligent! We got to spend more than half an hour talking together about 3D printed hands, and 3D printing in general. We talked about where 3D printing is likely to be a few years from now, and how they might be using it.

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This is the second “virtual field trip” I’ve had the opportunity to do so far. I previously did the same thing with a classroom in Massachusetts. It’s wonderful to see how kids respond to this technology. They listen attentively, they ask intelligent questions, and they seem genuinely interested in learning more.

The e-NABLE volunteer community is now beginning to formulate plans for helping more classrooms to get started with 3D printing, and to make 3D printed hands for people who need them in their local communities. There is so much talent and good-will within e-NABLE – I’m very excited to see what we’re able to come up with.

So on Thursday, Sierra goes to her science fair to present her work to the school and community. But even though she hasn’t finished that yet, Sierra has already volunteered to make another 3D printed hand for another child who actually needs one!

Another e-NABLE volunteer helped me to quickly identify an 8-year-old girl who doesn’t have most of her fingers on one hand. She does, however have a fully functional thumb. e-NABLE is currently testing a new design, specifically for people who have a functional thumb but need mechanical finger replacements.

I printed the parts out for this new design and have sent them to Sierra. She’s going to assemble and test the new hand. She’ll then provide some feedback about how the new design seems to work. When she’s finished, she’ll send it to me for a final check, and I’ll then send it to the 8-year-old girl who is awaiting her new hand.

Having done a similar assembly already, I can guarantee Sierra will be able to put this one together without issue. So we now have an 11-year-old girl making a new hand for an 8-year-old girl who lives 2,000 miles away from her – for free! And BOTH girls are very happy about it!

Here’s a photo of the new hand parts, unassembled:

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A note to Sierra:

Sierra,

Good luck with the science fair on Thursday! You’re going to do great! Of course, the outcome (if they even select “winners” at this science fair) doesn’t really matter. You’ve already achieved so much and inspired so many people!

I’m so proud of the work you’ve done, and especially the way you’re volunteering to help make a new hand for our new friend. To see someone your age who already understands how rewarding it is to do things like this for others is a wonderful thing!

Your friend,
Jeremy


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

Using Simplify3D to Print an Entire Cyborg Beast Prosthetic Hand on a Single 6 x 9″ Build Plate �

I recently taught my wife how to setup 3D prints using Simplify3D. She’s a natural and was setting up her very first print job within 10 minutes, with me helping only with verbal pointers from time to time.

2014-06-09 10.48.15 pm

These days, most of what I print is prosthetic limbs, so I was teaching Alina how to setup a print job for a Cyborg Beast e-NABLE Hand. It’s a pretty advanced print job to start off with. For best results, the support material needs to be customized so it only goes in specific places, which Simplify3D allows you to do, as shown here.

As if this print job wasn’t challenging enough already, Alina proposed something really interesting. I normally print a Cyborg Beast in two print jobs – one for all the hand parts, and another for the “gauntlet” – the part that fits over the arm. As Alina was setting up her very first print job, she asked if we could just position the smaller parts underneath the bigger parts. We did a test, and it came out surprisingly well! Check out the video (10 minutes) here.

To make a 3D printed hand for someone who needs one, please visit:
http://www.facebook.com/enableorganization
http://enablingthefuture.org

To buy Simplify3D, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/products/simplify3d-software

To buy a FlashForge Creator X, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/collections/3d-printers/products/flashforge-creator-x

To buy a kit with the assembly materials you need to make your own Cyborg Beast 3D printed hand, please visit:
http://shop3duniverse.com/collections/3d-printable-kits/products/e-nable-hand-assembly-materials-kit-cyborg-beast-edition

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2

For background, see e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1.


I’m so impressed with Sierra! I sent her a bunch of 3D printed pieces and some assembly materials:

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From there, she was able to assembly a fully-functional mechanical hand prosthesis.

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And she’s TEN YEARS OLD.

Now, let’s look at the bigger picture here for a moment…

Sierra has already caught the attention of Ed Tech, who wants to interview her, and the science fair hasn’t even taken place yet.

Her classmates have been excited to hear stories of her work, so this Thursday, I’ll be doing a Skype call with her whole class to talk about 3D printing and the kind of work Sierra and I are doing.

And of course, stories and photos of her work are being shared on the Internet.

Now, think about the downstream effects of all this. Sierra is going to be reaching thousands of people – sending a strong message about how powerful this technology is. An affordable technology that allows a 10-year-old to do something that used to require a big company and millions of dollars in R&D and manufacturing costs is a really big deal, and Sierra is helping to spread the word. For that, I am truly grateful to her.


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 1

I have a new project that I will share with you as it develops. I think it will serve as another great example of why 3D printing is so important for students and schools.

Sierra

Meet Sierra, a 10-year-old girl who is getting ready for a Science Fair and wants to show how 3D printers can help humans and animals who need limbs. I have volunteered to help her with her project.  I’ll send her some assembly materials kits so she can make her own 3D printed prosthetic hands. The photo above shows her first “Cyborg Beast” e-NABLE Hand printing with the help of a local 3D print shop.

Sierra’s mom described Sierra’s feelings about this project:

“She is so incredibly excited about this project. She goes to sleep talking about it and wakes up asking what we have to do next…”

“Her enthusiasm for this project has ignited interest in 3D printing in her classmates as well as her teacher. I’m sure her teacher would be interested in turning this into a class project (probably for next school year since we are winding down).”

Well, I’m excited too! I’ll speak with Sierra and her mom via Skype soon, and I hope to speak with her teacher as well. Maybe I can help Sierra’s teacher get a class project going and eventually maybe even a whole curriculum for 3D printing!

3D printing is an amazing technology, and children in particular seem to recognize the potential. I’ve seen my own son’s eyes light up when he realized he could have an idea and turn it into a physical object overnight. I’ve had other people bring their kids over to see our 3D printers and talk about how it works. Within minutes, these kids become engaged in a way we don’t see often enough these days.

We adults grew up in a world where companies make the products, and the rest of us are just consumers. Our children will grow up in a world where we are all co-creators. They seem to recognize this potential intuitively and get genuinely excited about it. Our educational system desperately needs something like 3D printing to provide a more practical education that can truly engage kids.

The power of 3D printing to engage is why I’ve been so excited to see students, teachers and schools getting involved in 3D printing, specifically in 3D printing prosthetic devices. Most schools with more than a couple thousand students are likely to have at least one student with an upper limb difference. Students in that school can work together to make a new hand for someone they know — and learn all about 3D printing along the way!

Here are some videos showing students involved with 3D printing. Notice how genuinely interested and engaged they seem:

Today, I received the following update from Sierra’s mom, Lianne:

“I just got back from an EdTech conference, and 3D printing was a VERY popular subject. Sierra has also attracted some big attention to her project, and it looks like some Ed Tech leaders in VT will interview her. The Keynote speaker described this exact kind of learning and how it needs to be more evident in schools if we are going to keep kids engaged. Very cool!”

Very cool, indeed!

I have two assembly kits ready to send to Sierra tomorrow:

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Each kit includes all of the assembly materials needed to make a 3D printed “Cyborg beast” e-NABLE Hand.

 


Continue reading…

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 2

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 3

e-NABLing Sierra – Part 4


 

For more information about e-NABLE, please visit:

Jose Delgado, Jr. Compares His $50 3D-Printed Hand to His $42,000 Myoelectric Prosthesis

I would like to share a story with you about the power of 3D printing technology to transform lives.

I recently had the opportunity to work with a great guy named Jose Delgado, Jr., a 53-year old who was born without most of his left hand.  Jose found his way to me and asked if I could help make a 3D printed prosthesis for him.

Jose has used multiple types of prosthetic devices over many years, including a myoelectric version that uses the muscle signals in his forearm to trigger closing or opening the fingers. The cost of this myoelectric device was $42,000.  Only a portion of that was paid by insurance and the rest by Jose.  The cost makes it an unaffordable option for many in similar situations.

The total cost of materials for a 3D printed e-NABLE Hand is about $50.  This device (also referred to as the “Cyborg Beast”) is a completely mechanical design. There are a series of non-flexible cords running along the underside of each finger, connecting to a “tensioning block” on the top rear of the device (the “gauntlet”). Tension is caused by bending the wrist downward. With the wrist in its natural resting position, the fingers are extended with a natural inward curve. When the wrist is bent 20-30 degrees downward, the non-flexible cords are pulled, causing the fingers and thumb to bend inward. A second series of flexible cords run along the tops of the fingers, causing the fingers to return automatically when tension is released.

I was curious to see what sort of experience Jose would have with this mechanical hand design compared with his myoelectric device.  My expectations were limited, however.

Jose works in an environment that involves a lot of box lifting and moving.  I anticipated that the e-NABLE Hand, made of ABS plastic (same material as legos), might not hold up for long. To my surprise, however, Jose says it’s been doing very well.  He actually prefers it to his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis!

Jose and I got together again today so I could fine-tune the tension on the “tendon” cords.  I asked Jose if he would be willing to talk with me on camera about his recent experience using the e-NABLE Hand and compare it to his experience with other prostheses.  As a result of using a number of different prosthetic devices over many years, Jose has a unique perspective.  He has extensive hands-on knowledge of what can or can’t be done in terms of day-to-day functionality.

Since the prosthetic devices Jose has used are completely different types, his statements do not represent an apples to apples comparison. The comparison here is simply in terms of how useful Jose has found each device to be on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s the video:

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And here’s a follow-up interview with Fox News: http://youtu.be/AymSI4GP_O4

 

It turns out, this simple, mechanical design provides Jose with more day-to-day functionality than his far more expensive myoelectric prosthesis.  If a part does break, I can easily print a new one for him in a matter of hours.

Now I am going to print another e-NABLE Hand for Jose using Bridge nylon, a material that is still lightweight but with significantly enhanced strength properties. I’ll also provide him with an alternate thumb mount to enable a different kind of grip. I look forward to getting his valuable feedback from those changes as well!

I believe that 3D printing is a transformational technology.  Jose’s experience is a great example of that.  3D printing completely changed the possibilities for one man, and at 1/10 of 1% of the cost of other devices, those possibilities are becoming more readily available to anyone, anywhere.

3D printers are coming down in price rapidly. As of today, a self-assembly kit starts at around a few hundred dollars.  A fully assembled “prosumer” level printer sells for $1000-$2000. In other words, this kind of technology is rapidly becoming very accessible.

When you combine that kind of technology with the collaborative power of the Internet, the inherent generosity of human beings, and a global open source community, truly remarkable things start to unfold.

The e-NABLE volunteer community is a great example of this. Less than a year after being formed, more than 650 volunteers have joined in to help provide inexpensive assistive technologies (such as 3D printed prosthetic hands) for underserved communities everywhere.

For more information about e-NABLE, or to join in, please visit https://www.facebook.com/enableorganization or http://enablingthefuture.org. Everyone is welcome. With or without a 3D printer, everyone has something valuable to contribute!

To download the model for this prosthesis, the e-NABLE Hand (aka the “Cyborg Beast”):

A New Hand for Lily

This 8-year old girl named Lily is going to get a new left hand soon. I just finished printing it for her! There are photos below and a video showing the fully assembled prosthesis.

Lily is in 2nd grade, and she is now attending her third elementary school because other kids have relentlessly teased her about missing her left hand (and part of her left arm). Her current math teacher found out about 3D printed prosthetics on the Internet and shared a video with his class (including Lily), asking if she might like one. Now, she has more friends than she knows what to do with, and she hasn’t even gotten the prosthesis yet!

Historically, a customized prosthesis like this would cost anywhere from $10,000 to $80,000. The total cost of this one – less than $50 and some of my time! Start to finish, this took two days to 3D print and assemble. This is a perfect example of why people say that 3D printing is such a transformational technology.

If you have a 3D printer and would like to explore making prosthetics for those who need them, please visit e-Nable. Anyone can do this, as you can see in the assembly video I did recently.

About 1 in every 1000 children is born with a condition called Amniotic Band Syndrome, which results in missing fingers or other defects. And of course, there are our veterans and others who have lost fingers or limbs in the line of duty, on the job, from illness, etc. So please, get involved!

This prosthesis was printed in “Bridge” nylon, a new material from Taulman 3D. This filament has excellent strength properties, as well as being heat and chemical resistant. It has been formulated to address the challenges encountered when printing with other nylon filaments. For more information, visit http://taulman3d.com/index.html.

To download the model for this prosthesis, the Cyborg Beast:

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How to Assemble the “Tendon” Lines for the Cyborg Beast 3D Printed Prosthesis

After posting another video showing the overall assembly process for the Cyborg Beast 3D printed prosthesis, I was asked to show some details specifically for the process of installing the two types of cords used as tendons in this design.

So here’s Part 2 of Assembling the Cyborg Beast, showing a close-up view of how to install those tendon lines.

A big thanks to the great work of those who contributed to the Cyborg Beast prosthesis, including Jorge Zuniga, Frankie Flood, Ivan Owen, David Orgeman, and others in the e-Nable community.

For more information about the e-Nable community, please visit http://enablingthefuture.org.

Assembling and Testing the Cyborg Beast 3D Printed Prosthesis

One of the most exciting things going on in 3D printing these days is what’s happening with 3D printed prosthetics. In particular, the e-Nable community, a group of 500 people and growing, is working to continually evolve the available options for low-cost 3D printed prosthetics. These talented folks from around the globe are creating designs that anyone can produce and assemble, wherever needed.

As a demonstration of that, here’s a video of me assembling one for the first time. I have no background in prosthetics or mechanical engineering, so if I can do this, anyone can. Of course, a prosthetist or other medical professional should always be involved when doing one of these for real, in order to ensure proper fit, check periodically for irritation, etc.

Cyborg Beast Test

A big thanks to the great work of those who contributed to the Cyborg Beast prosthesis, including Jorge Zuniga, Frankie Flood, Ivan Owen, David Orgeman, and others in the e-Nable community.

For more information about the e-Nable community, please visit http://enablingthefuture.org.

 

Here are some photos of the assembled prosthesis. Click on an image for the full-sized version.

Video Review of Taulman 3D’s New Bridge Nylon Filament

Taulman 3D recently released a new nylon filament called “Bridge”, so named because it bridges the excellent qualities of other nylon filaments with the lower cost and ease of use found in more common ABS and PLA filaments.

Unlike other Nylon filaments, this one can be printed on glass, with a thin coat of PVA glue. Bed adhesion and warping challenges have been significantly reduced. This filament also absorbs much less moisture than previous nylon filaments.

Here’s a video review.

Purchase the Taulman Nylon Filament at shop3duniverse.com.

The Flexy-Hand 3D Printed Prosthesis (Proof of Concept)

So I’ve been focusing a lot on 3D printed prosthetics lately. What better way to put a machine like this to good use? Recently, this Flexy-Hand design appeared on Thingiverse, and I knew I had to make one…

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Check out my video review here.

The model is available on Thingiverse, here.

Credit for the design goes to Steve Wood, founder of Gyrobot,

And here are some more photos. Click on the photos for a full resolution version.

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