AMS Spring 2023

e-NABLE Divulges Plans for $600,000 Google Grant: Aims to Bring 3D Printed Prostheses to 6,000 More People in 2 Years

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enablefeaturedLate last month, we reported on a $600,000 grant that Google had awarded to e-NABLE, in order to help them more efficiently develop, share, and distribute 3D printed prosthetic hands to those in need. At the time, little was made available to the public about exactly where this money would go and what it would be used for. Today though, e-NABLE has provided further details.

“The overall goal of the grant is to focus on factors that will dramatically increase e-NABLE’s impact,” Andreas Bastian of e-NABLE tells 3DPrint.com. “We’re going to invest heavily in improving e-NABLE’s designs, build more functionality into self-service tools like Handomatic, remove bottlenecks in key steps in the the device fulfillment process, tighten the feedback loop between users and designers, and recruit more talented designers to drive the creation of better devices.”

As Bastian mentioned, the Handomatic tool is certainly one area which, if improved upon, could go a long way in allowing virtually anyone with access to a 3D printer to easily customize and 3D print a prosthetic hand for a friend, loved one or even complete stranger. In its current state, the tool is quite useful but it does have some issues that must be resolved. The linear scaling process, which helps users customize the sizing, still needs to be perfected, and this is one area in which e-NABLE hopes to improve with the pending release of Handomatic 2.0. Handomatic 2.0 will allow for “true parametric manipulation” for many more of e-NABLE’s hand designs. At the same time, they will also be looking into creating a mobile version of the tool for field use.

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“Improved designs immediately increase the impact of everybody who prints a hand, further developing Handomatic will make these designs more accessible and easier to print, and ECF staff members managing critical parts of the device fulfillment process will reduce wait times,” Bastian tells us.

At the same time, another one of e-NABLE’s goals is to increase efficiency in the production and delivery of 3D printed prosthetic hands. Currently it takes about 40-60 days to develop, 3D print and deliver the average hand. This is another area the organization hopes to improve upon, and their target goal is to reduce the end-to-end time to delivery by 60%. This will be done through improved design discoverability, improved automation of fitting and customization, and through the development of tools for their volunteers to operate with greater autonomy.

enable2In the near future, e-NABLE will be holding several design challenges, where small cash prizes will be awarded. These challenges will provide ample opportunities for the organization to accelerate the development of new designs as well as bring new talented designers on board.

Additionally, e-NABLE looks to expand its reach by creating new designs which will “explore body-powered upper limb exoskeletons and orthotics, and transradial and transhumeral devices in order to benefit a larger population and larger set of needs.” The idea of seeing new 3D printed prostheses intended for other individuals with other forms of disabilities could really thrust e-NABLE into the limelight.

e-NABLE has also outlined their goals for the next two years, some of which are quite impressive. These goals include:

  • 6,000 new recipients for 3D printed prostheses over the next 2 years
  • 10,000 new fabricators or functional equivalent (such as high-bandwidth automated fabrication via an industrial partner) engaged over the next two years
  • Reduction in delivery time by 60%
  • External report of successes, failures, best practices, and potential extensibility of model(s) to other domains

More details on these future plans by e-NABLE can be seen via their website.

It will certainly be interesting to follow the continual progress that e-NABLE makes, especially with the addition of this grant. What do you think about the potential that this organization has? Discuss in the $600K Grant for e-NABLE forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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