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Q: What is e-NABLE and how does it work?

e-NABLE is a global network of volunteers who  design, print, and deliver free 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need.

Q: How did e-NABLE get started?

e-NABLE began with one random act of kindness for one and has blossomed into a global movement that is now involving and helping thousands!

It’s an incredible story!  You can read about it at’s “About us” page!  or watch this 8 minute video .

Q: Where are you based?

There is no central location. This map is not comprehensive, but shows that e-NABLE volunteers are based largely in North America and Europe, though we have many active groups in South America and Asia.

 This website ( was developed by Jon Schull, based in Rochester, NY.   See About.

The e-NABLE ecosystem now includes over 50 websites and facebook groups, and several non-profit organizations.  See
e-NABLE around the world.

Q: How many volunteer 3D printing experts do you have?

The Google-Plus community now has more than 9000 members, and keeps growing.  We are not all 3D printing experts.  Approximately half of us operate 3D printers and some become experts after joining e-NABLE.

Q: How many people have you helped and are in the process of helping?

We currently estimate that we’ve delivered about 1800 hands, mostly to children.  We guess that  an equivalent number have been produced outside of our community’s documented process.


Q: Who can get an e-NABLE device?

See Safety Guidelines and Choosing a Device


Q: How old do you  have to be to get an e-NABLE device?

We recommend that children be at least 3 years old.  See See Safety Guidelines.

Q: What can these 3D printed hands be used for?

Different people use different devices for various purposes.   Children use them to  hold things, ride bikes, or swing on swings, catch balls and for other simple tasks that benefit from two hands.

They are not medical prosthetics.  They are not that strong.  They can hold a few pounds of weight, and can not be used for playing on monkey bars, doing hand-stands, working the brakes on bicycles or anything else that may lead to harm if the device fails or breaks.  Additionally, fingers do not move individually – they have a simple basic grasping function.

But they are substantially better than nothing.  They bring joy to children, parents and volunteers, and they change attitudes for children and their peers.

Q: How much does a prosthesis from e-NABLE cost?

e-NABLE volunteers  offer these devices completely free of charge.

The material cost of the Raptor Hand is approximately $35. But that does not include all the time involved in customizing, building  assemblng, fitting, testing, and more.   If volunteers charged  for their time, devices would cost hundreds of dollars.

Q: What would an equivalent, partial hand prosthesis made by a professional cost?

A professionally made, muscle-actuated hand can cost around $6,000 – $10,000, with much of the cost from the materials and parts alone.  With good insurance coverage, you may want to consider one of these because it would be custom made, the care would be supervised by a doctor, and it would likely be made out of stronger materials like carbon fiber.

 Q: If an equivalent partial hand prosthesis costs $8000, why do people talk about $40,000 prosthetic hands?

In the media, e-NABLE hands have been favorably compared to myoelectric hands costing $40,000,” but the comparison is misleading.  Forty thousand dollar myoelectric hands with custom, “life like” silicone skin used to be the only option for active finger movement on a partial hand prosthesis, and some people are unfortunately still being fit with these.  But $8000 alternatives are available and these alternatives are fairer benchmarks for an e-NABLE hand like the Raptor.

Q: How durable is an e-NABLE hand?

A: The hands hold up quite well to the activities of a typical child. Many of our recipients have sent in videos of children using the hands to ride bikes, throw a ball, swim, and perform other activities.

We somtimes drop hands from a height of several stories.  They usually survive.

The hands can also be printed in a variety of materials, including very durable nylon. 

Q: Are any health care professionals involved in e-NABLE?

At Creighton University an Occupational Therapist named Jean Peck is working with muscle physiologist Jorge Zuniga, designer of the Cyborg Beast e-NABLE hand.   They are  working on a study of the long term effects of using the hands for patients, and recently reported on the results of their research.

Dr. Albert Chi at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore also works closely with the e-NABLE community. He is a trauma surgeon with a background in biomedical engineering, clinical research, and has been featured on 60 minutes (twice!) for his work on high-tech brain-controlled robotic arms.

Dr. Gloria Gogola at Shriners Hospital in Houston, Texas works with a team of e-NABLE volunteers at Rice University to help fit her patients with 3D printed devices and teach families how to assemble them.

Approximately 30 other Certified Prosthetist-Orthotists and Occupational Therapists are members of our Google Plus community. These volunteers work with engineers and 3D designers in e-NABLE, to provide input on comfort factors, usability, and design. 

Q: What kinds of prostheses does e-NABLE offer?

See Choosing A Device, and Resources.


Q: What would it cost to buy a 3D for this purpose?

Our volunteers routinely make hands on machines ranging from $500 to $3000.

Q: Is this organization only in need of fabricators and designers?

There are many e-NABLE members/volunteers who do not own a 3D printer and who do not fabricate hands.  There are other ways to participate – please join us!

Q: Does this mean the end of professionally made prostheses?

No. e-NABLE typically focuses on people  for whom traditional prostheses are too expensive (because they can cost thousands of dollars per year) or impractical (because children outgrow them).

Professional prostheses serve different needs and provide things that a volunteer community cannot. For example:

Issue Professionally Made
Partial Hand Prosthesis
e-NABLE Device
Provisioning Provided by Certified Prosthetist with formal education, under a prescription of a Doctor.  A Prosthetist must provide care in an accredited local facility. Developed by volunteers in an innovative online community
Population There is a wide variety of prostheses which work for a wide variety of amputation types. Prostheses have been found to be effective for all types of amputation including people with fragile skin from traumatic amputation or people with dysvascular concerns. Most users are congenital amputee because their tissue is generally pressure tolerant and they don’t require custom made devices to protect their skin.  Other amputees may want to consult a doctor before considering an e-NABLE device.
Fabrication Generally custom fabricated around a specific mold of the users anatomy.  This produces an intimate fit. Prosthesis are generally made out of lightweight material like carbon fiber. This process is involved, difficult, and expensive. Custom fit standardized parts based on measurements of the users residual limb.  Most of the e-NABLE parts are made from 3D printed plastics
Health Insurance Health Insurance may pay for all or some of the cost of a conventional prosthesis because it is  provided by certified prosthetist per prescription from a Doctor and meets FDA regulation as a class 1 device.More on device classes: Has not been reviewed by FDA.
Cost Prostheses can be expensive, however most prostheses prices are not set by prosthetists  They are based on govt. regulated billing codes called Lcodes. These code take into account the device itself, the time for evaluation, fabrication, delivery and 3 months of follow up care. Private insurances negotiate the prices of prostheses based on these codes. No charge for labor and the $35 that has been mentioned only covers the materials (as stated above)