e-NABLE prosthetics with Ian Lewis November 29 2019

With the e-NABLE Community, "Giving the World a Helping Hand" became literal. It's a community that puts aside their differences to help those in need of an upper limb assistive device. With the open-source 3D printable designs for hands and arms, anybody can become a part of the help. Ian Lewis, who is a part of the chapter e-NABLE UK, has a rich history of 3D printing that led him to the e-NABLE community.

Aryan, the Phoenix Hand, PLA Extrafill "Luminous Green")

With a keen interest in making robots, Ian decided to invest in his first 3D printer in 2012. The first 3D printers, back in 2012/2013, had an extensive collection of 3D printed parts. Before risking a critical part brake, It was usual to print parts of the printer in advance.

(Alex, the Alfie Arm, PLA Extrafill “Noble Blue” & “Traffic White”)

"After printing an entire set of new parts, and some things off the Internet, I realized that there had to be something more awesome these devices could do, so I searched with Google and came across E-nabling the Future," says Ian.

He became a member in 2013 after he started to do business with 3D printers, which sadly didn't work out, in the end. He found himself left with a room full of printers and a passion for helping people.

the Phoenix HandPLA Extrafill “Pearl Ruby Red” and “Gold Happens”)

"The kids are amazing! I have attended the Reach Family Weekend for the last two years, and you meet so many kids running around. And nothing seems to phase them. They run and play and misbehave. You would need to double-check to see which are the limb difference kids and which are their siblings. They are all as crazy as each other!" Ian talks about his experiences. 

Reach is the limb difference charity in the UK running a few events during the year. In October, they organize family weekends and an Annual General Meeting. Ian goes along to meet parents and children on his own expenses to see what they can do to help.

"My philosophy is very much that we make these hands and arms as tools. I don't expect the child to use it all the time, every day, as that would stop their natural adaption to their circumstances. But if the one job they use it for is to get that child through the first day in a new school, so kids aren't cruel whether they mean to be or not. Then it has done its job, if it sits in a drawer and never gets used again, it's fine."

(Alisha, the Alfie Arm, PLA Extrafill “Pearl Violet” and “Everybody’s Magenta”)

People can meet Ian through his Facebook or at the Reach Family Weekends or page, which is linked to the website E-nable UK. Thanks to having a stand at the Birmingham Children's Hospital, there has been more opportunity to spread the word around. Once we're in contact, I will always try and meet the recipient personally. Then we use Messenger, SMS, WhatsApp, or emails to keep in touch.

"If there is a child, I'm not going to have the chance to see, although I always try and see them at least once. Then I will take a plaster cast, 3D scan it, and print it in flexible filament so I can see how it would fit realistically. There have been times, like with Jayden, where his nan did the measuring and got it wrong, or I made a mistake and had to reprint it, but on the whole, it hasn't been too bad." Ian explains. 

All that needs to be done before printing is to take the measurements and the color choices. 

(Jasmine, the Phoenix Hand, PLA Extrafill “Pearl Ruby Red” and “Gold Happens”)

e-NABLE decided the best way to help the community would be to allow people to set up their own local groups to work together called chapters. There are currently over 140 chapters and hundreds of schools participating in helping to make free 3D printed hands for those in need. Anybody can set up their own chapter or join an existing one. All you need to do is make a test hand to prove that you can manage to build it, and that's about itAll of the models for e-NABLE are Open Source and are designed by the community, for the community. Ian usually uses the Phoenix Hand by the e-NABLE designers and the Alfie Arm from Team Unlimbited. 

(Justin, the Phoenix HandPLA Extrafill “Concrete Grey”)

"Now, I primarily print stuff for rocketry, which is my main hobby now and the hands/arms for e-NABLE, when I get requests. Requests from e-NABLE are being constructed form donations. I have been fortunate to get filament supplied from Fillamentum. I used Colorfabb in the past, but their colors were all a bit plain. You have some fantastic colors that really help the kids feel special and, at the end of the day, that's what it's all about!" says Ian.


the Phoenix Hand by e-NABLE designers
the Alfie Arm by Team Unlimbited

Printed with:

PLA Extrafill

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