The quote above is certainly more than relevant in the following context, featured on enablingthefuture.org, a personal blog created by Jen Owen, who with her husband is famous worldwide for having helped to create one of the most innovative and helpful organizations we actually never could have imagined just a few short years ago. As with most of the innovations that have arrived via 3D printing, the thousands of 3D printed prosthetics printed by thousands of volunteers simply were not possible a decade ago, and most certainly were an incomprehensible concept for most—and for many, this new technology and all it’s responsible for are actually still somewhat hard to fathom.
The first e-NABLE 3D printed hand was released as a public domain file in 2013. As that one 3D printed hand grew into a hundred, and eventually thousands, Jen’s blog grew also, expanding into something larger than life with a multitude of facets flooding in that she never imagined. And as the technical aspects of their materials and the expertise of their e-NABLE volunteers began to flourish, so did the number of comments and questions flowing into enablingthefuture.org, discussing projects and mainly, asking for advice and help regarding 3D printers and what materials to use when creating prosthetics stemming from e-NABLE.
“After a while, my blog was no longer just a place to share the stories of the community, but it has morphed into a repository of ‘how to’ tutorials, free 3d printable hand designs, support information, forums for those seeking advice, information for parents of children in need of a device, help for teachers who want to inspire their students and create service learning projects, a centralized calendar so people can meet our volunteers and get help in person at events, and so much more,” wrote Jen.
She explains that her site is indeed mainly too a place where families are able to see future hope for their children, whether they have lost fingers, hands, or arms due to accidents, congenital issues, or even war—definitely not uncommon in many of the developing areas. Jen’s blog is a venue for inspiration, offering up stories regarding those facing challenges due to missing limbs who are now using 3D printed devices and able to enjoy two fully functioning hands.
And in consideration for all who need true technical advice, Jen has called in for reinforcements, and expert ones at that, via MatterHackers, a company we’ve been following for years as they are continually evolving and providing comprehensive tools for their users, whether in the form of a new printer controller or a guide explaining how 3D printers work and dissecting the hardware. The bottom line is this: they know what they are doing. Jen Owen has placed her trust in them, and in so doing, she sees them as being able to provide an invaluable service to her community.
“…I am excited to announce that MatterHackers.com is partnering with this privately owned and volunteer run website, enablingthefuture.org, to create the first comprehensive online retail hub for educators and volunteer groups looking to make a difference,” states Jen on her blog. “The e-NABLE Hub will utilize MatterHackers’ expertise on how to choose the right 3D printer, filament, and accessories for a project, as well as offer recommendations from the e-NABLE community.”
“A portion of all proceeds from the Hub will go straight back to the enablingthefuture.org website to help with upkeep of information, cover hosting fees and to continue providing inspiration to those who find the information and stories here, helpful to them.”
Most of you who have been following the progress of e-NABLE volunteers are probably nodding in agreement that the idea of a special hub placed in the hands of a company like MatterHackers is a brilliant and very necessary idea, and should allow all of the programs to thrive even further. MatterHackers has announced that they will also be offering custom education bundles for teachers who are involving their classes in fabricating e-NABLE devices for other kids around the world, as we’ve seen in projects previously, for example, involving some amazing middle-schoolers in South Carolina.
“We’ve all been inspired by videos of kids using 3D printers to make e-NABLE devices for other kids,” said MatterHackers’ Mara Hitner. “Now imagine a generation where creating for the benefit of others is taught in school! MatterHackers has been providing guidance on how to get started 3D printing in our own community for years. We are thrilled for this opportunity to extend our expertise to e-NABLE volunteers, classrooms, and anyone beginning their 3D printing journey.”
- Instructional guides
- Videos (featuring Joel, YouTube’s 3D Printing Nerd) explaining how to get started
- 3D printing troubleshooting advice
- Stories from classrooms and e-NABLE volunteers around the world
“As we begin to create e-NABLE devices, MatterHackers has proven to be invaluable to my students and me,” says teacher and Edutopia blogger Heather Wolpert-Gawron, “They clearly have a devotion to education, and even after the sale are helping us troubleshoot and brainstorm as we learn by doing. This partnership is great news for teachers.”
The e-NABLE community has grown from that of two designers working to help one child to over 8,000 volunteers comprised of hobbyists, teachers, students—and those making prototypes in 45 countries. These are stunning numbers overall, which as a result have brought forth nearly 2,000 affordable, customized devices for very appreciative kids—and that would be an understatement as their joy is really the only kind that can be seen in their purely delighted faces.
MatterHackers specializes in making users around the world happy with comprehensive products, providing desktop 3D printing solutions that include software, hardware, materials, and accessories. They also develop MatterControl 3D printer control software, and MatterControl Touch, a WiFi-enabled touchscreen controller that allows 3D printers to operate without a laptop or computer.
What do you think of this new partnership? Discuss in the MatterHackers to Create e-NABLE Hub forum over at 3DPB.com.[Images: Provided to 3DPrint.com courtesy of Jen Owens]