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People are making prosthetics at a fraction of the cost by using 3D printer technology,. e-Nable, an online network of volunteers, has fostered a growing community of crowdsourced prosthetic designers. These designers get functioning prosthetic hands and limbs finished in a matter of days for around $50 apiece. They have created more than 3,000 bionic hands for people in need (mostly kids) across 90 countries.

The e-NABLE Community comes together to collaborate and improve the open source 3D printable designs for hands and arms for those who were born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.

Ivan and Jen Owen, the original creator and founder of e-Nable, started researching prosthetic devices when they were creating the first few prototypes. They stumbled on the story of a prosthetic hand created in the early 1800’s from whalebone, cables, and pulleys. This one hand, created over 100 years prior, inspired the design as the building block for every e-NABLE Community 3D printed hand.

Ivan taught himself how to use 3D printer design software and contacted a 3D printer company that donated 2, 3D printers so they could work on creating a stronger and more functional design for him. Together, they created the first 3D printed mechanical hand.

people could download and print these devices for anyone that needed one.

Instead of patenting the design for this new hand and making a profit, Ivan decided to publish the design files as open-source and public domain. This meant that people could download and print these devices for anyone that needed one.

The e-NABLE Community started with around 100 or so people who were simply offering to print the files that were already in existence and a handful of devices had been made..and then something beautiful started happening…designers started joining and doing exactly what Ivan had hoped they would…..they started innovating….collaborating and re-sharing the improved design files back out into the universe! It was incredible!

“Together, we can change the world.”

The e-NABLE community has quickly expanded to more than 7000 members and approximately 2000 devices created and gifted to individuals in over 45 countries.

An excerpt from Jen Owen on the direction of e-Nable’s growth, “We are not simply writing the stories down and sharing them anymore – we are also connecting makers to families, answering questions and emails and providing a place where the community can continue to gift these files and designs openly and freely. Together, we can change the world.”

[via e-nable]

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