I wish it was possible to know exactly how many people with disabilities have been helped with 3D printing technology. It’s impossible, of course, to obtain an exact count, but the number would undoubtedly be overwhelming. Part of the reason that 3D printed prosthetics and assistive devices are now so easy to obtain is that the public has become actively involved in designing and creating them. No longer relegated to expensive clinics, assistive devices and prosthetics are being made by hobbyists and makers as young as elementary school students.
A major facilitator of the open source, community-based prosthetic design movement is e-NABLE, which we write about frequently, but which never fails to surprise and impress us with their creativity and innovation. They continue to challenge their community members to get creative with their frequent design competitions, sometimes issued on their own and sometimes with partners. For the July installment of their monthly CREATE T.I.M.E. (Think. Imagine. Make. e-NABLE.) competitions, they’ve teamed up with Pinshape, Ultimaker and MatterHackers for the Within Reach 3D Design Challenge.
The challenge was inspired by Brandy Leigh Scott, a young woman who was diagnosed with a rare condition called Dupuytrens Contracture at age seven, resulting in her hands becoming irreversibly closed into fists. Needless to say, the condition caused her a lot of difficulty – until her friend Mara Hitner began working for MatterHackers and enlisted her colleagues and resources to design and 3D print simple devices like cupholders and forceps to make Scott’s life easier. You can see her story below:
When Jen Owen of e-NABLE heard Scott’s story, she decided to challenge the maker community, in collaboration with MatterHackers, to design assistive devices for people with limited use of their hands due to arthritis, stroke, injury or other debilitating conditions. It’s a bit of a departure for e-NABLE, which normally focuses on the creation of prosthetic hands and arms for those missing them, in that it’s directed at people who have full limbs but have lost function. The contest’s creators suggest that potential entrants wrap their hands in tape or socks for a day to get a sense of the challenges a condition like Scott’s creates, and how those challenges might be addressed with a 3D printed device.
The contest is being hosted by Pinshape, where you can upload your designs from now until September 6. Winners will be selected from two categories: youth under 18, and adults 18 and over. Grand prize winners will receive either an Ultimaker 2+ (youth) or Ultimaker 2 Extended+ (adult), plus a MatterControl T10 3D Printer Controller and three spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA filament. Second place winners will receive a Crafty 3D Printing Pen plus a $100 MatterHackers gift card, and third place winners will receive a Crafty 3D Printing Pen plus a $50 MatterHackers gift card.
“This challenge gives the 3D Printing Community a chance to come together and work on designs that will have an impact on real people who have limited use of their hands,” Pinshape Marketing Manager Lauren Watkins told 3DPrint.com. “We are thrilled to be part of this initiative and we are excited to see what our community comes up with!”
The contest will be judged by Scott, Owen and her husband Ivan, e-NABLE contributor Les Hall, and Dave Gaylord, MatterHackers Director of Marketing and the first person Hitner talked to about working on assistive tools for Scott. Contest entrants are also encouraged to actively participate in social media over the course of the competition, posting photos and videos of their designs on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WithinReach3DP and tagging @Pinshape, @Ultimaker, @MatterHackers and/or @EnabletheFuture. Thinking about entering? Discuss further in the Within Reach 3D Design Challenge over at 3DPB.com.