The results of one inspirational spark can be staggering when you consider it. Within the 3D printing realm, we’ve seen a technology that was created for prototyping in engineering that has now developed in a full-blown industry, offering innovations like 3D printed prosthetics —and thanks to volunteers like those associated with e-NABLE, we’re seeing children all over the world benefiting from innovations allowing for limb replacements and assistive devices. e-NABLE came about through the dedicated work of Jen and Ivan Owen who, since releasing the first 3D printed hand design in 2013, now have thousands of dedicated volunteers who are part of the e-NABLE community, along with an inspirational flow of information coming from enablingthefuture.org, a blog set up and maintained by Jen.
If it hadn’t been for a fun steampunk convention Jen and Ivan were attending together, and the functional metal puppet hand that Ivan, an engineer himself, had created, one must question where 3D printed prosthetics would be today in terms of progress and affordability, as a carpenter from South Africa in need of a prosthetic hand may never have seen their YouTube video and written them regarding a collaboration.
As one spark leads to that fire in the belly motivating drive and action, we sometimes see entire worlds open up thanks to beginnings offered by just one or two individuals. The Owens certainly haven’t stopped for a moment it would seem, evidenced again as Jen was recently enlightened by the story of Brandy Leigh Scott, a young woman affected by Dupuytrens Contracture since the age of seven. With that debilitating condition, Brandy’s hands had closed into fists, rendering her quite challenged to perform the daily activities we all take for granted so easily.
Upon learning of Brandy’s story and investigating further, Jen saw how the tools that MatterHackers had provided allowed for such significant and positive changes in Brandy’s life. As we reported back in July, and began following with great interest, Jen decided to launch the Within Reach 3D Design Challenge with MatterHackers, Ultimaker, and Pinshape.
“The goal was to expand on spirit of giving that the e-NABLE Community has already been pouring out into the world for those who were born missing fingers or who lost them due to accident, illness or war…and get them thinking of ways they could help the hundreds of thousands of people worldwide who are living without the full use of their hands, including stroke victims, military veterans, arthritis sufferers, children affected by severe epilepsy, and others with debilitating conditions,” explains Jen.
Designers of all ages were called upon to design assistive devices for those with limited use of their hands.
“You can design something for me, a friend, a grandparent, your teacher, anyone who inspires you to help,” said Brandy in regards to the contest as it geared up (see video below).
The challenge began on July 11th and ended on September 6th, and while professionals designers were invited to enter their innovations, so were children under 18 as well as any other adults over 18. The sponsors encouraged entries from summer camps, classrooms, and makerspaces. Two categories, one for those under 18 and another for those over 18, were judged by:
- David Gaylord (Medical Device Engineer and Director of Marketing for MatterHackers)
- Ivan and Jen Owen (enablingthefuture.org and eNABLE)
- Les Hall (Pinshape community assistive device designer)
- Brandy Leigh Scott
Six winners have been announced from a total of 203 entries.
The grand prize award was actually given to a duo, two students working together from Australia for the Nail It design, winning an Ultimaker 2 + 3D Printer, MatterControl T10 3D Printer Controller, and Three Spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA.
The young innovators, Nima Yahyaabady (grade 7) and Aidan Mansell (grade 9) were inspired to create the simple but ingenious nail guide upon observing their engineering teacher. With a thumb that had been amputated, their instructor found some tasks challenging, and they took obviously took note in working to create something that would not only help him, but many others.
“Mr. Knight told us that holding a nail and hammering it into an object was quite challenging and often frustrating as it was something he had to do quite regularly,” stated the designing duo. “Our main objective to entering this competition was to invent an object that could ultimately make people’s daily tasks easier. Along the way we learnt about the complexity of design and functionality and with every hurdle are grew more decisive in our task.”
Second place for designers 18 and under went to Amy W. of Canada for the Zipper Aid and Easy Keychain Ring. Compatible with a multitude of different bags and pieces of clothing from backpacks to hoodies and gloves, the Quick Zip (which 3D prints in under 10 minutes) is a simple attachable clip that allows for easier grasping and consequent zipping. Amy won a Crafty 3D Printing Pen and a $100 MatterHackers gift card.
Third place was awarded to Johan, a 15-year-old student from Switzerland for the Keyboard Assist Typing Tool. The young designer did not know anyone at hand to consult with, so he actually spent time at the keyboard pretending he was missing fingers, trying to imagine the best way to create the artificial 3D printed fingers. For this innovation, he won a $50 MatterHackers gift card.
Be sure to check out the rest of the amazing designs from those 18 and under, from the Utensil Gripper to the Shoelace Tie Assistant. Many of these assistive devices should offer great help to others, and they can be easily 3D printed.
And as the winners of the over 18 crowd of designers emerged, we saw Fusionist take first place with the Spin Sling 360 Knob to Lever Kit, meant to turn frustrating door knobs into easily manipulated door levels. Fusionist won an Ultimaker 2 + 3D Printer, MatterControl T10 3D Printer Controller, and three spools of MatterHackers PRO Series PLA.
Check out the ‘making of’ video below—a work of art in itself!
Second place was awarded to Gontran for the Handy Tool, which allows for easy opening of different plastic containers that we probably all have in our refrigerators—from yogurt to margarine.
“I can imagine the thin sharp edge snapping on the containers bull nose to be a challenge to open without risking a mess.This tool provides the stability and dexterity to open these types of commonly use containers. Also, a small point on the other side of the tool can cut open the plastic seal,” said Gontran.
“My mother is one of those people that uses one arm for all the daily tasks which causes her remaining arm to be overworked,” explained Bjorn Kok.”The objective is to make it easier to use a sweeper or mop. I achieved this objective to use a set of open rings with an handle to make it easier to use the sweeper or mop. So I created a set of supports that can be attached to [a] normal broomstick to relieve the arm of some of the strain. The pictures are of the first prototype a few weeks ago.”
Brandy says that she has been using a number of these designs already, and she was especially excited to see what the younger kids were able to create.
“I’m already incorporating these devices into my daily routine. It’s amazing to think of the impact that these designs will have for people with hand disabilities, like the Dupuytrens Contracture community,” said Brandy.
Be sure to check out the rest of the entries from the over 18 category, as well as the honorable mentions, featuring the following:
“It was really exciting to see what everyone came up with, especially the under 18 category,” says Brandy Leigh Scott “…My gratitude for everything that has happened can never be put into words, but I’d like to take a quick second to try. Thanks to MatterHackers, Pinshape, Ultimaker & enablingthefuture.org for sponsoring this amazing contest. I’m honored to be a part of this adventure with you all….You’ll never understand how much you changed my life with just a pair of tweezers,” said Brandy in a comment shared via Facebook.
Discuss further over in the Within Reach 3D Challenge forum at 3DPB.com.[Sources: MatterHackers; enablingthefuture.org]