Over the last decade, the e-NABLE volunteer community has grown into a global movement, with over 20,000 volunteers using 3D printing technology to make free assistive devices for anyone who needs them. Thousands of 3D printed hands and arms have been delivered to people all over the world.
Often, people have questions about how to get started with e-NABLE. This guide provides an overview and some suggestions for those who want to get involved with this amazing community.
Step 1: Join the e-NABLE Hub
The e-NABLE community uses an online platform called the e-NABLE Hub for collaboration and communication amongst volunteers and chapters. Please create a free account here, and refer to the Welcome Page to familiarize yourself with the platform.
Step 2: Familiarize yourself with e-NABLE’s Code of Conduct
It’s important that you understand and follow some simple rules when working with e‑NABLE. This is to protect you, as well the people you make devices for (many of whom are minors). Please read the e-NABLE Code of Conduct carefully. After reading the Code of Conduct, please complete this short form to indicate your acceptance. This is a prerequisite to earning the e-NABLE Volunteer digital badge award.
Step 3: Familiarize yourself with the current e-NABLE designs available
This page includes a list of current e-NABLE designs along with links to STL files (for 3D printing), documentation, assembly tutorial videos, and other related information.
If you’re unsure which design to start with, the Unlimbited Phoenix is e‑NABLE’s current recommended hand design, and the Unlimbited Arm v2.1 is the recommended arm design. Both are relatively easy to fabricate and assemble and are the most popular designs currently.
Step 4: Make a test device
Once you pick a design to start with, you should create a test device and submit it for approval. Since this device isn’t being created for a specific recipient, it can be made in any size, but we recommend that you use a scale of 120-135%. At 100% scale, the device will be too small for most people, and it will be harder to assemble at that size. 120-135% is a common size range for younger recipients, and it will be easier to assemble the device.
Most of the designs featured in the designs reference include links to instructions and/or video tutorials to help you get started.
3D Universe offers assembly materials kits for some of the most popular e‑NABLE designs. Assembly materials can also be purchased individually from various online or local sources.
Step 5: Submit your test device for approval
Once you have 3D printed and assembled a test device, fill out this form to submit your evidence and request the appropriate badge. There are two badges you can claim. Under the e-NABLE Device Specific Badge category, you can claim both the Fabrication and Assembly badges for the device type you produced.
For more information about the Digital Badge Awards program and to see a full list of available badges, please visit this page.
Step 6: Learn how to properly size e-NABLE devices
Before you start making devices for actual recipients, it’s important to learn how to properly size a device. Please see this page for details.
Step 7: Create an account on e-NABLE Web Central
e‑NABLE Web Central is a web-based application used to connect individuals seeking to receive e‑NABLE devices with volunteers offering to make them. Visit e‑NABLE Web Central and create an account for yourself.
Be sure to select the “Fabricator” and/or “Device Assembler” roles during the registration process (or you can select them from the Edit Profile screen), or you won’t be able to see the volunteering related pages within e‑NABLE Web Central.
Step 8: Introduce Yourself
Introduce yourself in the e-NABLE Forum and Claim your “Joined the e-NABLE Hub“, “Introduced Self in the e-NABLE Hub“ and “e-NABLE Volunteer” badges (in the e-NABLE Community Participation Badge category)!”
Step 9: Find Someone Who Needs a Device and Offer to Help
e-NABLE Web Central is a self-service matching platform. So once you’ve created an account for yourself, you need to go to Browse Cases (under the Volunteering menu) and find a case that looks like something you can assist with, ideally in your geographic area. Once you find a case, you can click the “Offer to Help” button to offer assistance in one of several roles for that case.
The Experienced Volunteer role is responsible for reviewing the sizing photos and determining the most appropriate device type and size.
The Fabricator role is responsible for 3D printing the parts for a device.
The Device Assembler role is responsible for assembling a device and delivering it to the end-user.
You are welcome to offer to help with any or all of these roles for any given case.
Once you have made an offer to help, the case creator will need to review and accept your offer. Then you can proceed with producing the device.
Step 10: Join a local e‑NABLE chapter – or start a new one
A list of e‑NABLE chapters can be found here. Feel free to reach out to nearby chapters to see how you can get involved with them. You can also start a new chapter in your area.
Step 11: Search for your own cases, both near and far
While registering for EWC (e-NABLE Web Central), and volunteering for cases is an excellent way to Lend a hand, don’t stop there! Talk to people in your local community, church or civic organization. Tell them what you do, and you may well get referrals to local people who need prosthetics. There is plenty of need in our world, and regions of poverty and strife can present opportunities to donate prostheses. Do research and find organizations or individuals who might be interested in your help. Then reach out with a “cold call” email, and offer your assistance. You may be surprised by their response!
Regional partners may well be connected with international organizations, and the leads and experiences you have with the former may help us all establish relationships with the latter.
One thing to watch out for is “collisions.” If you think another e-NABLE player may already have contacted your regional prospect, compare notes and coordinate. Similarly, if you see an opportunity with an international player, check with SPC or the broader e-NABLE community through G+ or Facebook before reaching out to the contact. Larger organizations have more bureaucracy than we do, and have a harder time understanding a distributed network like e-NABLE. We want to spare them as much confusion, and as many conflicting perspectives, as possible.
Step 12: Print parts for e-NABLE hand-a-thon events!
Sometimes it can be difficult to find individuals who need an e-NABLE device. When you’re not working on a specific case, you can always put your 3D printer to good use by printing parts and sending them unassembled, for use in e-NABLE hand-a-thon events. Read more here.
Other Ways You Can Help
- Join our Loomio group, “E-nablio”, to participate in community voting for proposed projects and initiatives
- Check out the e-NABLE Volunteering Needs space here in the e-NABLE Hub to see all the other ways you can help out.
- Start an e-NABLE Chapter in your area! If you do not find an established e-NABLE Chapter near you and would be interested in starting one, please refer to the instructions on the chapters page!
- Claim your “e-NABLE Community Chapter” Badge (in the e-NABLE Community Participation Badge category)!
- If you have access to a 3D printer and would like to help create unassembled hand kits for end users – please see this post for details.
- Display e-NABLE Community devices and information at events and Makerfaires to share the work of the global community and reach out to local families and recipients as well as school groups who might be interested in participating! You can find promotional materials HERE.
Claim your “Event Organizer” or “Participant” e-NABLE Event badges (in the e-NABLE Community Participation Badge category)!
Feel free to seek guidance from the e-NABLE Community Volunteers through the e-NABLE Forum!
More 3D Universe blog posts:
Click HERE to learn more about e-NABLE Web Central.