Enable Pre-Conference


Maria Esquela led a discussion of people who came early to the conference.  This included a group from the First 1511 Team from Rochester NY, a group from Enable Evansville, a couple of presenters from  Florida Atlantic University as well as individual members.  Maria showed us a prototype and several revisions of a Gripper Thumb as well as a few other hands.  This one is the first prototype of one of the latest designs.  I see it called the Gripper Thumb and the Jedi Hand.   I was hoping to print our hands in nylon as I thought it would hold up really well.  She mentioned that nylon absorbs oils and dirt from sweat  Perhaps the material is not be best for our farmer and auto worker after all.  This hand is a “reverse grip”- you have to apply power to it to open it and its resting position is closed.  So, if you want to grip and carry something, this is more comfortable. The strong bands hold with a strong grip.  The original hand had all the fingers connected.  In the later design, the fingers have been separated so that a glove may be put over the hand.

20181004_090458.jpg  20181004_090302

Over the next few days, the morning sessions included calls to different eNABLE Chapters across the world.  I can’t do justice to the content of these sessions.  A few highlights will be mentioned.

Syria:  We discussed with Syria the problem of power going out frequently.  Trying to 3D print parts that take many hours is difficult when power is unstable- not just blinking off, but staying off for hours and being unpredictable.


It was noted that Syria won’t accept hands that are not pretty enough.  The hands will sit un-donated rather than be used.  Elastic does not last well in this region- elastic will not last even a day.

Haiti:  Haiti was provided hands by a group of scouts.  There is a doctor stationed in Port a Prince to work with the users.  Haiti has a printer and prints in TPE.  Haiti has issues with getting a consistent water supply.  They use Indian Wells pumps that have frequent breakdowns of their gaskets.  Haiti is printing gaskets to keep these pumps in service as that is a big need and the best use of their printer.  They also mentioned something called a Plumcase.  This is a mobile power and connectivity case that can give you a hot spot even with very low signals.

Since power outages are common in many areas, knowing how long a partial print can sit before being resumed is critical information.

On our way to our next session, we caught a glimpse of this:


Spacecraft flight simulator!!  It was difficult to walk on by!  More on that later!!!

The next session was tearing apart a Cube 3D printer and comparing it to ones that were more open and easy to see.  It was sturdy, elements covered and hard to get to, and the electronics were well supported and secured.  But it was noted that the HOT extruders were right by the electronics boards with no vents (all was solidly encased in the plastic shell) or fans.  Other than that, it was basically the same extruder, filament feed, and print bed as other printers.

20181004_111710.jpg  20181004_114830.jpg


The next tour that we wandered into was one of the many 3D printing labs at U of M.  This group is in charge of all the printers on the U of Maryland campus and they put printers where they will be most used, so there are various types near the groupings of labs (such as for the biology majors, engineers, health care, etc., In this room, they mainly had one kind (the Makerbot replicator because it can be networked and all controlled easily from a central station).  The workers here are the experts in printing.  The students design what they want printed and the workers take care of it.  The workers let them know if there are problems with the files that would prevent them from printing.





Enablecon 2018 – Day 1

As an attendee at Enablecon 2018, here are some of my observations.  I was a first-time attendee and didn’t get to see everything.  Please ask questions of anything that you found curious!  Hopefully other attendees can add detail.


Digital Harbor Foundation

Before the conference started, some of us visited the Digital Harbor Foundation:  This is a maker space for kids 18 and under.  They assemble hands for the Enable Alliance.  There are five 3D printers in the 6th grade-and-under room alone!  I counted twenty-eight in the teen room along with equipment to learn about coding, prototyping, and more.  There were about 4 trainers there already preparing for students to come in later.  They were very welcoming to our questions!


They had two printers of the same brand as our school’s.  They gave tips on how to improve our print quality.  Please see a pic of one of theirs – it caught fire.  They let me know that it was a firmware issue that they addressed right away by the manufacturer!  Seeing what we can learn from things that don’t work is a valuable part of the learning process!


The big things that made this place special, was that there was a comfortable atmosphere for learning, all the tools available, and knowledgeable people there to get the kids started.  It was lively, engaging, and just said “stay and play” to us.3


The Foundry

The same engaging atmosphere was present when we visited The Foundry.  The Foundry is a makerspace that had equipment for woodworking, embroidery, 3-D printers, sheet metal work, blacksmithing, and more.


The amount of equipment available for making your inventions come to life was impressive.  They have training classes for all the equipment with sign-offs so you can work independently.  There were people to teach skills and welcome people.  However, they will not make the items for people- they want to interest you enough to learn to do it yourself.




Upcoming Events

SAVE THE DATE: ENABLECON 2018 will be held at the University of Maryland College Park during Columbus Day Weekend October 5-6, 2018.

Attendees are invited to attend events bookending the e-NABLE Conference events:

Wednesday, October 3

  • Board training and volunteer leadership development training in the evening.

Thursday, October 4 and Friday, October 5

  • Web conferences with classrooms and volunteers unable to attend in person.
  • Skills workshops with Ed Choi, Christian Silva and others.
  • Discussion Groups
  • Case Review
  • Presentations
  • Site Visits/Tours
    • Local Motors, 3 D printing, scanning and CAD facilities at the National Harbor. Local Motors 3D prints cars and large shuttles like the Accessible Oli. It also distributing interactive, accessible shuttle stops around the country. Test these out and share what you learn about their customer service stations during the conference.
    • University of Maryland College Park printing labs for bioprinting, microprinting, and projects with the National Institute of Standards and Technology

Friday Evening, October 5: ENABLECON 2018 Science Fair Friday, 5 pm – 8:30 pm

  • Evening Science Fair with interactive presentations and exhibits
  • Opening of the e-NABLE Gallery of art, images, video, model devices, and e-NABLE Community timeline
  • Opening of poster sessions, featuring the points of view from
    • chapters, schools, clinics, makerspaces, e-NABLE workgroups
    • recipients, citizen scientists, clinicians and research teams

Saturday, October 6: ENABLECON 2018: “The State of the Science, Technology and Our Community”

  • 8 am – 2 pm  Vendors displays, Community Exhibits, Posters, Gallery open.
  • 8:45 am  Group Photo and Role Call
  • 9 am – 12:30 pm  Opening and keynote addresses, live streamed and recorded
  • 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm  Working lunches
  • 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm  Workshops, device reviews, discussion groups led by Ed Choi, Christian Silva, Jeremy Simon and others
  • Break for dinner, workgroups, judging for awards.
  • 7 pm – 9 pm Awards and Recognitions, and Costume Party

Sunday, October 7: Workgroups’ ENABLECON Summary and Community Planning Session

  • 8 am Birds of a Feather Meetup
  • 8:45 am Final repairs, fittings
  • 9:30 am – 12 pm Review of e-NABLE Community 2 year plan

If you are interested in presenting a poster, panel, presentation or workshop, please email your idea and plan for activity in the months leading up to the conference to


There are several events coming up that can bring us together and move our whole community forward.

Help with the e-NABLE Printer Project: 

  • Download and print the Printer Torture Test on your 3D printer.
  • Email your contact information, images and video of the results, identify the make and model of your printer, the material you printed, software slicer used, and the environmental conditions during printing to
  • Email results of attempts to print devices or other e-NABLE files, letting us know a little about who the print was for, and the device file you were trying to print- where you got it, how you customized it, the software used to do the CAD and slicing. If it failed, how far along into the print did the failure occur? If it succeeded, did you have to do any tweaking? Were you able to assemble and gift the device?
  • We will share an anonymized version of the data for the community to analyze to look for patterns and highlight areas for further development of a design, printable files or instructions.

If you are interested in printing a hand kit for others to assemble, please email

Camp e-NABLE will be held July 22-27 at the University of Maryland College Park. Children 8-12 with upper limb differences will customize and make their own e-NABLE device during a fun STEAM summer camp. This is a day camp for parents and children with upper limb differences to team up with medical and additive manufacturing engineers. Families and staff who don’t live in the area can arrange to have a dorm suite for the week and obtain campus cards for meals and access to the pool and other campus facilities. A huge thank you to the Whovian Running Club, who raised the funds needed to make this possible!  For more information or inquire about registering as staff or participants, please email

e-NABLE Summer Workshops will be held at summer camps, libraries, makerspaces and youth programs coast to coast. These groups have been matched with volunteers willing to print kits for them to assemble. During their assembly meetings, other e-NABLE volunteers teamed up with them will join them on-line to show youth how their kits were made, how the hands were designed, how they will be checked, and how they will be given the hands away to people who need them. Groups will be guided by preassembled models and printed instructions. A huge thank you to employee teams at Microsoft and student groups at University of Maryland, University of Illinois, FIRST Teams Rolling Thunder and Froggy Force, and the Hollow Hills Community Library for helping to make models and kits.

e-NABLE Nepal and volunteers from e-NABLE Canada and e-NABLE Western NY will set up a printing lab in Nepal. Experts on the trip include OTs and electrical engineers. Volunteers will test hardware and rehearse set up with the remote participation of e-NABLE volunteers who will support the lab after the lab installation, training sessions, and first activities testing devices, materials and fitting and gifting to recipients. Thank you to the SUNY Polytechnic Institute Living Classroom and the Economics and Engineering class for analyzing and testing 3D printers, 3D scanners, flesh-toned gloves, and classroom filament manufacturing technology as preparation for this mission trip.

Planning is underway for follow up visits with partners in Haiti and Nigeria. Congratulations to  e-NABLE volunteers who successfully completed mission trips in late spring!

  • Engineer Steve Owens just returned from a clinic in northeastern Haiti, meeting with medical staff to  evaluate e-NABLE devices and 3D printed medical equipment using files suggested by eNABLE volunteers in Africa. During discussions with the medical staff, local NGOs and government, Steve helped scout sites that can support a 3D printing lab and identified pathways for safely shipping and storing filament and other materials. Steve and his team also dug a well and set up a bottle purification station on the clinic property to give the area a secure source for clean water. Great work everyone!
  • Ed Choi, founder of e-NABLE Sierra Leone repaired printers and worked with other e-NABLE volunteers to set up 3 printers at an innovation lab in Nigeria. The volunteers brought devices that were reviewed and tested by a young boy from a displaced persons camp in the region who needed a prosthetic. Of all the devices tried on, the Unlimited arm and Kwawu hand fit best. Volunteers were inspired by the boy they helped, and enthusiasm at a grand launch attended by the Nigerian Vice President and other officials. A follow up visit this year will include training of volunteers and creation of a local chapter partnered with medical volunteers and artists Choi identified during his stay. This post will be updated with a link to a one-hour debrief.
  • These projects will have their own fundraising pages on our site, updated by media contacts for the projects.







Announcements, EVENTS

e-NABLE CON 2017

Enable Alliance/APBLS is excited to invite you to our first e-NABLE Con!

Join us for a fun-filled and educational weekend!! How to join us virtually and a detailed schedule follow this activity summary:

Please be sure to register for the events and dates you would like to attend by clicking the above button so we can plan appropriately for attendance! You may also register the day of!


Live stream link


The global e-NABLE Community is marking the 5th anniversary of its genesis – the creation and sharing of an open source 3D printed hand based on a cosplay costume!

The whole e-NABLE community is invited to the University of Maryland College Park from 12/14 – 17 to appreciate our network and grow it: find or be mentors, create collaborative proposals, and increase the visibility of the integrity and quality of the work in the community. Leaders from industry, academia, government and the e-NABLE Community will join us on Saturday morning, 12/16 to give us the context and common ground and address our theme: “The State of the Science, Technology and Our Community.”

On 12/14 there will be advocacy discussions and a visit to the chief organizer of the Congressional Maker Caucus on Capitol Hill; tour of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 3D printing and functional motion testing of assistive devices, lunch and tour of Local Motors – 3D printers of road worthy vehicles at the National Harbor; and community leadership training. The University of Maryland students will post schedules for tours of their extensive 3D printing facilities at the Terrapin works.

On 12/15 the tours of the FDA and Local Motors will be repeated twice, and include 3D printing 101 sessions and lunch at Local Motors. Educational sessions teaching CAD and 3D printing and assembly of e-NABLE designs are held during the day with Peter Binkley, Christian Silva and others. A hackathon simulation will help build confidence and strategies for people developing those events or planning on participating in them in the coming year. From 5:30-8 we will celebrate the people and groups in the community, their skills and experience and the things they would like to do in the future. Jen Owen will open a gallery space, where individuals and groups can describe themselves and share their work, perspectives on their experience, or assert interest in a need, research question, or activity. The room will also display an e-NABLE timeline of images, video and text, where visitors can walk through  e-NABLE’s experience worldwide and add their own milestones and their messages.

On 12/16, Ivan Owen, originator of the first Open Source e-NABLE hand and a founding board member of the Enable Alliance/Alliance for Project Based Learning Solutions, will talk with the group from Washington state. We will also have presenters from the FDA and other speakers from government, academic, and industry during the morning. After lunch the community can share with each other perspectives from youth, recipient families, formal and informal educators addressing e-NABLE project based learning for lifetime learners. After a call for ideas not yet discussed in sessions, participants will break for dinner, working group meetings, and then reconvene for reports, awards, recognitions and a countdown to our new year.

From 9-12 on Sunday, all are welcome to a summary review of the information presented during the week, break out working group sessions and planning events, activities and sharing resources during 2018 and 2019.

Portions of the event will be live streamed and recorded. Details will be announced here on Wednesday 12/13 when tests of the technology conclude.


Tell us about yourself and your group  – where are you located, who do you work with, have you given devices and what was the outcome? What would you like to do in 2018, how could you include others in our community and what do you need to do that? How would you like people to contact you?  If you would like us to post your group information and its project information in the community displays, email this information to If you want to make a video, send a link to that address and we will share it and include it in a display if we can.

Share what you know – You have unique experiences and skills. What do you know about how best to design or work with device recipients/candidates – what should we consider regarding our communication or considerations of environment, culture, resources like power or distribution, or desired functionality. What could you share regarding materials, citizen science, classroom experiences, events? We can post the state of your research, assertion of interest in a study or question, a call for a resource, or other issues in the community displays.

Join us via streaming. Information will be posted on this page on 12/13.

Send your comments and messages to This will be monitored and your questions will be included in our activities.

Support the Local Motors fundraiser, benefitting, and the community effort to help get devices to more people and create distance learning content to engage more people in innovation and science in the global e-NABLE community. Local Motors is helping e-NABLE volunteers create 3D printed snowflakes and staffing sale of the snowflakes at the National Harbor during our conference. For details see their flyer:

Celebrate where you are! Get back in touch with people you’ve met or worked with. Get your chapter or your friends and eNABLE families together. Celebrate what you’ve done! Consider what you could do together.

Connect with someone new on a project you hadn’t thought of. Collaborate! We are makers! Make 2018 our best year yet!




The Enable Alliance invites the e-NABLE community to come to the University of Maryland College Park and celebrate the 5th anniversary of Liam’s first receiving a free, open source, 3D printed hand.

Dec. 14-15 are days of education, tours and reflection at University of MD.


We meet at the TAP Building at 8 am:
Grab food at your hotel or STAMP Student Union Building. Some refreshments are available at staff training.

8-9 Event staff orientation and training

*9-10 Working with vulnerable populations: Gathering and sharing recipient candidate request/intake information and getting feedback
*OR 8:30 to 10: Advocacy Training

10 AM: Shuttle to the FDA and Local Motors for tours; Shuttle from the front of the Engineering building to the Metrorail for people going to Congressional buildings or visiting DC.

10:30-11:45: FDA Tour

11:45: Shuttle to Local Motors

12:15: Pizza Lunch, Courtesy of Local Motors; Tour of customer collaboration system, 3D prototyping and 3D printing of cars, shuttles and other open source vehicle designs.

1:15: Using software at Local Motors to review CAD and 3D printing 101 skills, design snowflakes for Local Motors fundraiser, benefitting the Enable Alliance.

2:00: Return to U MD Terrapin Works 3 D printing labs for review of printing facilities at U MD. Leave your designs for printing.

3-5 PM Working on posters and practicing presentations

5:30 – 8:30 Dinner and Leadership training 

Reviewing the resources available to individuals and groups in the eNABLE Community. Record keeping and a chapters dashboard; making and awarding badges; reporting to show social impact, share news. Solutions Journalism. Internal and external places to present for outreach, funding, and other opportunities.
Posters and 3D printing files final call!


Gallery Closes at 8, DEC. 15


8-9 Event staff orientation and training

*9-10 Working with vulnerable populations: Gathering and sharing recipient candidate request/intake information and getting feedback

OR 8-10 Troubleshooting Device Assembly

TOUR GROUP A: Shuttle to Tours of FDA and Local Motors and National Harbor 10- 2

10-12 Basic CAD Skills and eNABLE Project Based Learning

NOON: Lunch at the STAMP Student Union Building

1-3:30 CAD for Engineers OR 
2 PM Shuttle Pickup TOUR GROUP B: FDA, Local Motors, and National Harbor

3:30 – 5 Visit Terrapin Works submit files for printing.


4-5 PM Hackathon Simulation

5:30 PM – 8 PM – SCIENCE FAIR Events and closing remarks
Registration opens for EnableCon Events: Science Fair Friday, Symposium Saturday, Working Groups on Sunday

Science Fair Demos, displays, poster presentations, and 3 scalable activities:

Enameling ABS; Setting Stones in 3D Printed Settings; Wearables
Troubleshooting failed prints

Opening of the eNABLE Gallery of Design, Art, Objects, and Ephemera

Storytelling stage on the half hour. (Please download the StoryCorps app.)

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 16th, 2017 at STAMP Student Union Building

3D printer services staffed at TAP from 8 am – 8 pm, subject to change.
Grab food at your hotel or STAMP Building. Some refreshments are available at staff training.

8 AM: Staff orientation

9 AM – 12:15 PM: Keynote addresses in Banneker Room

12-12:45 Lunch services

1 PM – 1:40 PM

1:45- 4:40 PM Seminars on several tracks, framing working groups for 2018 and building on morning talks

Beyond Hands: Science and technology interactive sessions. Workforce skills. Youth activities and recipient discussion groups.

Enable Designs, R&D, Devices: Peter Binkley and Christian Silva

IP, Blockchain,and Badges: Daniela Amzel and guests from USPTO, Government Blockchain Association, Open Recognitions Alliance, SUNY, NIH and Shapeways.

How to create and give recognition that will help assert open source and critical commons licenses and give social, educational and employment opportunities to the community and the recognition recipient.

Art and Communication – including Educators and Family: Eric Brewer and Jen Owen: Formal and Informal educators on supporting collaborative design and research.

Field Readiness: Janet Fofang: Getting designs, devices, and people ready to serve in the field. Mobile power solutions. Mobile connectivity solutions.

4:45-5:15 Summaries from sessions and virtual participant monitors. Call for proposals and ideas not addressed during after symposia sessions. Recipients and families get the final word.

Working Group announcements.

Break 5:15 -7 PM for dinner. 

7-9 PM Celebrating what we learned:
A brief summary / snapshot of the State of the Science Technology and Our Community. Motions accepted from the floor while identifying action items for Sunday Working Group meetings.

Presenting contest entries, including cosplay costumes – proof of concept for future designs.

Cosplay party, an homage to the origin of the first 3D printed hand in a cosplay costume. Discussion/brainstorming areas open.

9 PM: Last pictures and community countdown to eNABLE’s New Year. Location of planning meetings on Sunday 12/17 announced.



Working groups meet, plan 2018 and 2019
The location will be announced the evening before, based on the number of people attending to summarize resources, needs and opportunities, and a calendar of events.

Hard stop at 12 Noon. Last group picture and farewells. EnableCon Closes.

If anyone wants to join Maria to eat holiday foods and get the stories behind the landmarks during a tour of the National Mall, grab a map and meet on the National Mall. Duration: 90-120 minutes. We will start at the Folger Library with mulled cider and finish with hot cocoa and cookies at the National trees display at the White House.

The hub of our activities at the start of the week at University of Maryland College Park is the Technology Advancement Program Building Makerbot Innovation Center, a lab of over 50 3D printers also known as the Terrapin Works. The University of Maryland MakerBot Innovation Center is a centralized, scalable 3D printing space that empowers everyone to invent, innovate, iterate, and replicate. It has a reputation for printing with carbon fiber, which propelled one of its students to receive a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Terrapin Works will give participants exposure to nine different 3D printers and other related technologies in scanning, CAD, waste plastic recycling and filament extrusion. Their campus tour will include a bioprinting lab.

The main conference rooms on Friday night and Saturday are at the STAMP Student Union.

We hope you will join us at our event and help us plan for a global conference in 2018!


APBLS And Enable Alliance – LAUNCH!

Today, we are excited to announce the official launch of APBLS (Alliance for Project Based Learning Solutions) – also known as “Enable Alliance” as an official Non-Profit 501c3 who is focused on supporting the e-NABLE Community of Volunteers and the many e-NABLE Chapters, as well as addressing the everyday needs of individuals and communities – by building collaborative networks of those dedicated to humanitarian endeavors, project-based learning initiatives, boosting STEM based educational and technology access and helping to grow workforce skills!

ABPLS is dedicated to supporting underserved communities, with a focus on empowering women and other minorities with valuable skills and access to new technologies that will help them realize their full potential.

Continue reading “APBLS And Enable Alliance – LAUNCH!”