Learn about the Duke University eNable chapter

Growing the Duke University eNable chapter

The Duke University eNable chapter is a student-run organization that connects amputees with 3D printed prosthetic devices.

Growing the Duke University eNable chapter
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We started the Duke University eNable chapter with the simple mission of providing amputees in the Durham area of North Carolina with alternative prostheses, free of cost.

Our chapter is a completely student-run organization that aims to connect amputees with 3D printed prosthetic devices. We are partnered with the Enable Community Foundation (ECF), a non-profit prosthetics organization that works with prosthetists to design and fit 3D printed prosthetic devices on amputees who are in underserved communities. As an official ECF University Chapter, we represent the organization in recipient outreach, and utilize their open sourced designs for prosthetic devices. 

We’re also partnered with the Duke Medical Center Orthotic & Prosthetic Care Department, through which we get in contact with many of our recipients. 

We truly believe in the power and possibility of open sourced everything.

By conducting user-driven research and development projects, and by forging partnerships with local prosthetics clinics, we hope to push the boundaries of 3D printed prosthetic solutions, and to enable amputees with the devices we design and print. By no means do our devices replace traditional, clinical grade prostheses. Rather, we aim to fill a specific need by creating customized designs that accomplish very specific tasks. 

Kaylyn, a 26-year-old cake decorator for whom we are in the process of fitting, designing and fabricating a prosthetic arm, is one of those recipients. For Kaylyn, we have developed a modular prosthetic with an interchangeable attachment system. Each attachment allows her to accomplish a specific goal (folding clothes, turning a cake table wheel, using a rolling pin, opening a heavy door, etc.) that her clinically fabricated myoelectric prosthesis could not.

We’ve also been working on programming myo-electric sensors, and plan to integrate them with our devices in the near future. This will allow us to create more advanced prostheses—specifically, ones that can be controlled with muscle movement and actuated by servo motors.

We truly believe in the power and possibility of open sourced everything. We have seen firsthand the reach that open sourced designs have. People are printing these hands in makerspaces all over the world, and are connecting amputees that fall through the cracks with prosthetic devices. We’re lucky to have the chance to be a part of it, and we’re grateful that these prosthetic designs have been made available to us and to everyone. 

We’ve got a growing team, and are in the process of on boarding about 50 new members. In the past few months, we have been lucky enough to see our organization morph into something better than we could have imagined, and although we are still grounded in our mission of mobility, we could not be more excited about what we are doing and where we are going. We have come a long way from where we started—a few months ago, we were six students with an idea. Now, we’re a multi-faceted team working on delivering a viable prosthetic device to someone with a real need. We’ve grown exponentially, both in our size and in our scope, and we’re excited to have a few extra pairs of hands. There’s a lot of work to be done.

We believe that we can make a real, tangible impact with our organization. We are rooted in the recipients that we reach, and their personal stories of strength drive us to create the best possible devices we can. We’re deeply grateful to all of those who have supported us along the way. Through our involvement with the Innovation Co-Lab at Duke, who helped us get started back when we were just an idea and a handful of passionate students, we were introduced to OSPRI (Open Source Pedagogy, Research + Innovation)—a Red Hat supported project that has given us the means, in the form of the HFOSS Innovation Grant, to make our vision a reality. We’re positive their help will enable us to continue to push our limits, and to make a difference in the lives of others. 

If you would like to learn more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: enabledukeuniversity@gmail.com. And, check out our website.

About the author

Henry Warder - I am passionate about the field of prosthetics, and in using new technologies to change it. I am interested in applying 3D printing to prosthetics, and in creating bespoke prostheses for amputees using opensourced, 3D printable designs.