3D Printed Prosthetic Iron Man Themed Hand

April 2015


Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.15.15 AMJack Carder is your typical rowdy and enthusiastic five year old boy, who idolizes Marvel superheroes and can name every player on his favorite baseball team, the Cleveland Indians, as well as model their batting stances. He is just a happy-go-lucky kid that has already overcome certain obstacles in his short life. Jack was born with a hand anomaly in that his fingers never fully formed on his right hand. Today, Jack has a usable thumb due to bone graft surgery, however his four other fingers are still useless to him. In order to pick up objects, he pinches them with his thumb against his palm. As an active and growing young lad, his parents wanted to find a way for him to use a prosthetic hand that would grow with him, be able to perform daily tasks, and yet be cost effective and practical.
Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.15.09 AMThis is where the Enable Community Foundation (ECF) and Joe Fairley’s involvement with the organization comes in. The Enable Community Foundation (ECF) is a global volunteer community that designs 3D printed prosthetic hands, arms, and fingers for those in need. Since forming the non-profit organization in July 2013, the ECF has grown to over 6,400 members worldwide and has reached out to countless families. As a senior physics major at Siena College, Joe came to be involved with the ECF because he would like to pursue his M.S. in Prosthetics and Orthotics and become an ABC Certified Prosthetic Clinician. He initially got involved with the ECF so that he could tie in what he had learned during his undergrad to reaching out to his community and give those in need a “Helping Hand”. In order to do this, he established a student driven chapter at Siena College in early March 2015 that is now composed of more than 20 students covering every year level with backgrounds in physics, chemistry, and finance, and is being continued on after he graduated, to help more recipients in his absence.


Through the ECF’s matching process, they were quickly introduced to Jack and his family that are from Columbus, Ohio. Over the course of the past two months, the team collaborated with the family to take measurements, pictures, and video of Jack’s affected right hand so that they could design, print, and assemble him a functional and practical prosthetic hand. With the help of the open source designs that the ECF currently has and the ability of full customization from 3D printing, they were able to meet Jack’s only wish, that his hand be Iron Man themed. They gave him just that! With a yellow and red color scheme, glow in the dark accents, and a palm “laser”, Jack was ecstatic to receive the finished product on April 21, 2015. Three other team members and Fairley personally delivered the hand to Jack that Tuesday in Columbus, first at his school, then at the Columbus Clippers baseball game later that night as he got to throw out the first pitch. Seeing his emotions as he got to try out his new prosthetic hand was a humbling experience because at that moment, they knew they were making an impact in this little guy’s life.


Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 11.09.54 AMThe practicality of 3D printed device especially when implemented in young children leads to amazing opportunities in terms of the customization and usefulness for the recipient. As Jack grows Fairley will be keeping in contact with him so that he can build him another hand to the right specifications. Also, if he breaks the hand, he can always just print him another one. To add to that, they donated the hand to Jack, so there is no cost to his family and he receives a device that is usable and practical for a kid his age. He told us that for his next hand he wants it to be Wolverine themed, and they are already preparing designs for when that time comes!


At the momenScreen Shot 2016-03-09 at 10.48.55 AMt, they have also just finished designing a hand for a 38 year old man in New Orleans, LA and have recently sent it out to him. Having recently graduated from Siena, Fairley hopes to stay on with the ECF Chapter as a mentor for new students that join the team as they continue to help recipients in the future. With this experience Fairley has gained a lot of valuable knowledge regarding 3D printing and the construction of prosthetics. He plans on designing his own hand for ECF in the future, and hopes it will become one of their more popular designs.


Here are some links to the e-NABLE Siena College Chapter, as well as pictures of Jack with his hand and news releases that covered the story:





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