When Ew Chee Guan entered a 3D design and printing contest being thrown by office product reseller Ricoh Malaysia he was hoping to just win enough money to continue to fund his local efforts with Enabling the Future. As a maker, Ew spends a lot of time working with his 3D printer and had started to donate his time to e-NABLE, a charitable group that provides 3D printed prosthetic hands to people in need. But he doesn’t stop at 3D printing hands–he also spends his time advocating for the organization and trying to reach out directly to Malaysian locals in need of their services. Any winnings from the contest were to be invested directly back into his efforts with E-Nable, but it turned out that he ended up winning a bit more than he had expected.
As one of the largest office equipment dealers in the world, Ricoh Malaysia is especially known for offering state-of-the-art electronic devices before anyone else, and this includes emergent technologies like 3D printing. Their “Imagine Functionality: The Perfect Office Aid” 3D design contest was intended to draw attention to the technology and to help their customers understand how many ways it can be applied to their day to day lives. It was while judging the contest that the company officials first learned of e-NABLE, and what Ew often had to sacrifice for his involvement with them. Not only do volunteers donate their time to e-NABLE, but they also donate the money required to 3D print their prosthetic hands.
“The market for prosthetic hands is becoming progressively more expensive. Supporting this cause was also therefore becoming more of a challenge. I had initially joined Ricoh Malaysia’s Imagine 3D Contest in the hopes of winning the cash prize to further support this cause on my own. I got more than I hoped for when Ricoh went beyond just extending the prize money, but also came on board for the long run as a credible partner, sharing similar beliefs and sentiments towards this worthy cause,” Ew explained to the Malaysian newspaper the Rakyat Post.
Ew entered a design for a Desktop USB Ioniser, a four-in-one office aid which acts as a pen holder, an SD card holder, includes a USB port expansion system and an ionizer. His entry ended up winning him the grand prize in the Individual Category, which came with a RM2,000 cash prize, a Ricoh e-Store voucher, and a cool trophy. But after meeting Ew at the contest awards ceremony, he also won when Ricoh Malaysia offered to help with his efforts for e-NABLE. The company was inspired to donate RM10,000 to help Ew and e-NABLE produce over sixty 3D printed prosthetic hands for needy Malaysian children.
If you’re not familiar with them, e-NABLE is a non-profit organisation that crowdsources the production of 3D printed prosthetic hands for people in need. In the nearly three years since they have been producing prosthetics, thousands of volunteers spread out all over the world have helped produce over 1500 prosthetic hands that were then given away at no cost to the recipient. At this point the global network made up of makers, engineers, 3D printing enthusiasts, occupational therapists, university professors, artists, students and teachers who contribute their time and money has grown to over 5,000 strong. Ew may only be one in those 5,000, but he proves that the secret to e-NABLE’s success isn’t just in donated hands, it is in their supporters being advocates for their organization.
“We were genuinely moved when we heard how he was investing his talent and knowledge in an avenue that serves to better the lives of others. Inspired by our ‘three loves’ principle (love your neighbour, love your country, and love your work) and the fact that we possess the right resources and technology, we were compelled to be a part of this movement to help make a change in the lives of those in need,” explained the managing director of Ricoh Malaysia, Peter Wee.
Ricoh Malaysia has also committed to continuing to advocate for 3D printing technology and will team up with with local educational organisations across Malaysia to run several 3D printing workshops. The goal is to inspire and educate Malaysians on the wonders that 3D printing can create. The workshops will be called Get Started with 3D Printing and will offer participants hands-on experience working with 3D printers, as well as educating them on the wide variety of industries like medicine, architecture, fashion and art, who benefit from its use.
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