When you talk about the largest 3D printing companies in the world, one company which would certainly be at or toward the top of that list is 3D Systems. Founded by the inventor of 3D printing himself, Chuck Hull, 3D Systems has continued to evolve with the industry, bringing new products and new uses for the technology to the general public. Today 3D Systems has printers ranging in price and size to suit just about everyone’s needs. While the obvious goal of CEO Avi Reichental, as I learned in my microeconomics 101 class back in college, is to increase the value of the company’s stock, at the same time though, there is something about Avi, if you have ever had a chance to meet him, that stands out. You can tell that he has an interest that goes beyond this single goal — an interest in actually making a difference in the world.
This is one reason why I’m sure 3D Systems recently launched their “Making Good” campaign, and why today they have announced something that will certainly change the world. Today the company revealed that they will be teaming up with e-NABLE, an organization of volunteers who have been developing 3D printable prosthetic hands and arms for those in need. When you hear about 3D printed arm prostheses, more than likely someone within e-NABLE is responsible. There have been hundreds, and perhaps even thousands of 3D printed hands and arms created for children and adults with upper arm differences over the past few years.
So what exactly does this partnership mean? For starters, 3D Systems has unveiled a brand new K-1 3D printed hand design which has been optimized to print on both the Cube and CubePro 3D printers. The hand, designed by 3D Systems Industrial Designer, Evan Kuester will be showcased this week at the National Maker Faire and Capitol Hill Maker Faire.
“Our technology unlocks everyone’s potential to transform great ideas into real outcomes,” said Avi Reichental, President and CEO, 3DS. “By teaming up with the e-NABLE community, we are giving more people the means and the skills to improve lives.”
3D Systems and e-NABLE have also announce four areas that this new collaboration will focus on. They include:
- The aforementioned K-1 hand design. The design will be completely free to download and print on the Cube, CubePro and EKOCYCLE Cube 3D printers.
- A video tutorial will be made available to walk users through printing and assembling this new hand.
- 3D Systems will provide e-NABLE with “technical advisory”, which will help aid the organization with key industry and technical expertise on 3D technology, prosthetics, and more.
- At least four universities will be identified to qualify as e-NABLE partners. These schools will be provided with 3D technology tools such as 3D printers, 3D printing material, 3D scanners, and design software, along with the Touch 3D Stylus.
- A collaboration will take place to design and develop learning materials for both formal and informal education on creating 3D printed prostheses.
“We are excited to welcome 3D Systems into partnership with ECF and look forward to leveraging their solutions and expertise to further our reach and impact,” said Jon Schull, Enable Community Foundation President. “It’s notable that 3DS has the vision to open-source their K1 hand so that all sorts of people can use it and learn from it.”
This partnership is a major one, one that just may be what e-NABLE needs in order to gain more mainstream adoption as a means for prostheses fabrication. With the backing of a company like 3D Systems and the knowledge base that the company can provide, there really is no limit to how far e-NABLE can go, or how many individuals with upper arm differences can now become “e-NABLED”.
What do you think about this new prosthetic hand designed by 3D Systems, and the idea of them partnering with e-NABLE? Discuss in the 3D Systems / e-NABLE forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video and additional images below.