Inside the Enable Community Foundation’s (ECF) prosthetic challenge with Andreas Bastian

The Enable Community Foundation (ECF) challenges the GrabCAD community to lend a hand and take part in a challenge to create a 3D printed terminal device for those with limb differences. The ECF and the e-NABLE community believe that limb differences should never serve as barriers towards living a fulfilling and extraordinary life.

In the US alone, there are nearly 2 million individuals living with limb differences. Globally, there are countless more. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 1 in 2000 live births each year involve upper-limb reductions. For those with upper limb differences, there is often little diversity in aesthetics or functionality due to the manufacturing and distribution processes that have been historically used for creating low-cost prosthetics and much of what is available is based on designs from the 70s and 80s.  A 2012 VA study found that since 1987 the mechanical efficiency of voluntary opening (VO) terminal devices has actually declined and that traditional hooks still outperform more cosmetic hands in both weight, grip strength, and mechanical efficiency.

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Example hook terminal devices with standard threaded interfaces from http://rehab.research.va.gov.

The ECF and the e-NABLE community have demonstrated the potential of 3D printing as a distribution platform for highly customized low-cost prosthetic devices and now seeks to grow that work. This challenge is seeking to engage GrabCAD’s large and diverse population of talented engineers to design a modular, low-cost, 3D-printable terminal device that is compatible with the International Committee for the Red Cross’s (ICRC) transradial prosthetics manufacturing guidelines.

e-NABLE has taken great strides in showing the world what's possible with 3D printing and an open source community. What we're looking to do at the Enable Community Foundation is to take the powerful methods that the community has developed and begin to extend them to other limb differences that are far more prevalent than the congenital birth defects that have been the focus of e-NABLE's work to date. We're excited about engaging GrabCAD's community of over one million engineers and designers to develop even more low-cost, 3D printed assistive devices for those with limb differences.

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The Phoenix Hand, designed by e-NABLE Commnunity member Jason Bryant, is an example of the powerful impact 3D printing can have on assistive device technology.

The challenge calls for devices that interface with the ICRC wrist unit, which is an international standard for low-cost prosthetics and is widely used. Currently, there are very few 3D printable terminal devices that are compatible with the wrist unit.  The ECF is engaging this opportunity to build on the interface with 3D printing technology in order to open up the possibilities not afforded by traditional manufacturing, such as function-specific terminal devices, devices optimized for local aesthetics, and devices that can be further customized by the device user.

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ICRC wrist units in three skin tones (from nzdl.org).

In joining this competition, you will have the opportunity to greatly impact a community living with limb differences. The challenge launches on GrabCAD.com on April 18, 2016 for their community and the public with $3400 in total prizes.

Submissions will be scored by a panel of judges consisting of both professional prosthetists and leading designers from the e-NABLE community. The deadline for entries to be considered is on May 16, 2016. Finalists will be announced on June 6, 2016 and winners will be announced on June 20, 2016 . To participate in this challenge, visit the challenge page here!


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