Designing & 3D Printing Fingernails for E-NABLE

2 mins read

E-NABLE the future

“E-NABLE is a global network of volunteers who are using their 3D printers, design skills, and personal time to create free 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need – with the goal of providing them to underserved populations around the world.” - The E-NABLE Foundation

In order to become an E-NABLE volunteer and print prosthesis for real people, you have to make a test print to prove you’re able to complete the task. This was my video submission and I was quickly approved!

You can view & download the fingers I modified to have fingertips here: Phoenix Unlimbited Fingers with fingernails


My Contribution

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While I was fabricating and assembling the Unlimbited Phoenix hand, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to contribute to the design. After a few hours of research and development, I came to the conclusion there were three categories that would be helpful to contribute to:

  1. making the prosthesis lighter
  2. making the prosthesis more realistic
  3. making the prosthesis capable of doing more

This was my first print for the foundation, and also my test print. I didn’t want to stray too far away from the true task of getting approved to make hands for others. Since it didn’t change the functionality and it could be used for any of the Unlimbited Phoenix devices, I went with making the prosthesis more realistic by adding fingernails to the finger models.

The following image shows the difference in the original fingers vs the fingers I updated to have fingernails. It also shows the difference between a single color and multi color print.

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This is a render of the nails as designed using Blender.

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Here are images of the final approved print.

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Badges Earned

The video submission above and the addition of the fingernails earned me the following badges:

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Please visit the E-NABLE website to contribute to this noble cause.