Open-source 3D-printed prosthetic arm

Giving the world a helping hand

Enabling the future

e-NABLE is an online global community of ‘digital humanitarian’ volunteers using 3D printers to make free and low-cost prosthetic upper limb devices for children and adults in need. e-NABLE volunteers create open-source designs to help those born missing their fingers and hands or who have lost them due to war, natural disaster, illness, or accident. Around 40,000 e-NABLE volunteers across 100+ countries have provided free prosthetic hands and arms to roughly 10,000-15,000 recipients. They achieve this through collaborative efforts and open-source designs, helping underserved communities with limited access to medical care. This includes young children in so-called First World countries who are often not given prosthetic care until they are adults.

Giving the world a helping hand

The e-NABLE prosthetic arms not only help users get a better grasping function but also increase their self-confidence and learning to deal with their physical disability. Inspired by e-NABLE’s mission, WAACS offered to share its experience and expertise in prosthetics and bionics pro bono. WAACS was challenged with optimizing the prosthetic arm by improving its design and usability. The arm features multiple joints, including a flexible elbow, and its hand operates based on shoulder movement.

Ultra Personalised Products and Services (UPPS)

Building on the success of e-NABLE’s Kinetic hand prosthesis, designed by Mat Bowtell, WAACS worked on a functional arm prosthesis operable by shoulder movement. The key focus of the development was the production of the prosthesis using standard 3D printers and to make it easy to assemble all the printed parts with standard tools and assembly kits. A good fit is created by shaping the 3D-printed parts through thermoforming and utilizing a comfortable shoulder harness that can be made on ordinary sewing machines. WAACS tried to make the complete hand and arm prosthesis easy to use, considering all manufacturing limitations. Last but not least, WAACS also created alternative combinations of colors, materials, and finishes (CMF) that fit the diversity of users worldwide.

The WAACS story

Inspired by a mission to create meaningful change, WAACS set out to help e-NABLE and expand its open-source prosthetic portfolio. Teaming up with e-NABLE, WAACS is proud to contribute to making prosthetics more accessible for underserved patients who have limited to no access to prosthetics. This story showcases our commitment to collaboration, creating positive change, and making innovation available to all. WAACS was happy to lend a helping hand.

close up of mounting a 3d printed prosthetic arm




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