Duke eNable

Enabling the Future at Duke University

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks for checking out our Duke eNable Blog. We’ll use this to keep you up to date on all the cool projects we’re working on. Check back often for new posts!

Featured post

2018-2019 Year

Looking back on the 2018-2019 year, we wanted to take time to reflect on our accomplishments and hopes for the future.

On the clinical side, we got to work with Shawn, Alison, and Logan. Shawn requested a device to help him carry and work with heavy power tools, so we created a custom gripper that relies on the shoulder to close. A harness will help keep the device steady.

Prototype gripper device, shoulder-powered, for Shawn

Hopefully, the final iteration will include some portions printed with metal since it will be more secure than printing with plastic. The biggest challenge was the weight component and keeping it steady while holding and working with tools.
For Alison, we are very close to delivering her the Kwawu arm. The biggest challenge this year was getting the sizing correct and keeping the arm light for her. There was lots of experiment and work with flexible materials such as nGen Flex. The final prototype will be printed in light brown and hopefully will include a phone attachment as well for her to be able to look at and play with the phone.

Alison’s prototype Kwawu arm with flexible hinges

Finally with Logan, we delivered a Spiderman web-shooter to go with his Halloween costume.

Logan’s Spiderman web-shooter!

Additionally, we have been working to create a very comfortable socket and several other attachments to help him kayak and swim.

On the Research and Development side, our custom arm team has been at work creating an arm from scratch using CAD programs to allow for easier modification for recipients in the future. Additionally, our Neural Network team has been working to look at more efficient ways to read EMG signals and pair with the custom arm for myoelectric controlled arms. All of our custom-made devices and arms will be posted to the open source tab for all community to view and print once the arms are delivered and finalized!

Elbow-powered custom arm!

On the outreach side, we have connected with the younger community through continued CAD and engineering design workshops with FEMMES and Duke Splash. Additionally this year, we were very lucky to be a part of Girl Scouts USA’s growing engineering journey by helping them design an elephant prosthetic prototype!!

We also discussed our work with alumni, engineers in industry, and educators through our conferences Construct3D and ACCelerate festival.
Our social media pages through Facebook and instagram also allowed us to connect to the general community as parents and other universities got to follow our work. We started a #humansofenable segment on Instagram where each week, one member of our club was featured to tell their experience here at Duke, their advice for incoming students, and more adventures.

Next year, we hope to continue all the work with our current recipients and take on even more as the club expands. For our Research and Development side we will hopefully include a wrist-powered and wrist-rotation custom-made device as well as a custom-socket team and maybe even explore the lower extremity. Additionally, our Neural Network team will attempt to get better EMG signal data for individual fingers moving and maybe even muscles not only from the forearm but from the upper humerus.
On the outreach side, we have made several new connections through the ACCelerate festival and hope to reach out for video conferences for middle and high schools and even collaboration on projects with other universities. We hope to return to the NC AAOP (American Academy for Orthotists and Prosthetists) Conference in the fall to see where our work stands in the O and P community right now and discuss with professional clinicians their thoughts on this growing technology.
Finally, we hope more alumni and greater community will stay involved and active through our social media, getting to know our members and what we love doing!

A huge thank you to all the help and support we got this year, especially from the Innovation Co-Lab, Jennifer Ganley, EAC/Lord Foundation, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Chip Bobbert, and our wonderful members who display huge dedication each week!

transition dinner
2018-2019 Transition Dinner! From left to right: Juan, Ian, Claire, Gabriel, Iris, Alex, Jake, Jason, Gaurav, Leo Not pictured: Sachit, Lina


ACCelerate Festival 2019!

Last weekend, five members of the team traveled to Washington D.C. for the ACCelerate Festival. The Festival was a celebration and showcase of creativity and innovation; each ACC university sent two projects to showcase at the National Museum of American History alongside one another.

The team outside the National Museum of American History on Thursday, ready to set up our display for the festival! Left to right: Gaurav, Ian, Jake, Gabriel, Iris

Planning to attend began very early on. We received an email July 2018 from a representative of Duke’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship program– Monika, who also was a part of the ACCelerate Festival Steering Committee. We had to apply to attend the festival as only two projects from each school could attend. The project applications were sent around to other ACC Steering Committee members to evaluate. eNable was very lucky to have been accepted!

Preparation for the festival began when students returned to the fall. We definitely wanted to create as vibrant a display as possible. Students began reprinting hands and arms from previous delivered recipients such as Brooke, Nathan, and Chris. However, the students still had current recipients to work on so it was challenging balancing working on the festival while making progress with current recipients and research and development.

As April approached, the team finalized the display, poster, and hands and arms printed. Sometimes the 3D printers would be frustrating due to clogged nozzles and failed prints. The Monday before the festival, consultant Gabriel and team member Juan worked fervently to attempt to pair the myoband arm with the custom-built 3D printed arm.

We arrived to D.C. and checked in on Thursday night, setting up our table on the second floor with a grand view of the Washington monument and National Museum of African American culture and history right behind us!

Our display at the National Museum of American History! The banner was provided to us by the festival and we brought a poster and an assortment of hands and arms printed.

Exhibits on the 1st floor were themed “Exploring Place and Environment,” 2nd floor “Exploring Health, Mind, and Body” and 3rd floor “Culture and the Arts.”

We had to keep our table staffed Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM. There were over 60,000 visitors that weekend and we talked and engaged with a diverse crowd from young kids to high school students to teachers to alumni. The kids loved picking up our devices and trying them out, we delved deeper into 3D printing technology and the technical process with older students, and we received fantastic advice and ideas from alumni and adults working in industry. A few of the most exciting parts of our work for the visitors to see and hear about was Logan’s Spiderman web-shooter, Nathan’s light saber attachment, and the research and development with the myoband and custom arm that we got to open and close with our own arms!

Gaurav (left) and Iris (right) prepared to greet the coming visitors! We staffed in pairs so we could take on great crowds and piggy back explaining the club’s work.
Gabriel (left) and Ian (right) prepare to showcase our work with Smithsonian visitors!

We shared our contact information with several people such as teachers requesting video conferencing for workshops in CAD and 3D Printing and visitors who knew amputees who might want an adaptive device. We hoped to showcase what the up and coming technology of 3D Printing has been able to accomplish for social good. Additionally, we wanted to inspire the younger generations to think creatively about the possibilities of social good.

On Friday night, the festival hosted a reception for all the teams. With the Smithsonian closed, the teams were allowed to go around and view each other’s projects and it provided a closed space for us to discuss and view what other universities have been working on. Some of the other projects included Boston College’s JoyceStick, an immersive VR space for interaction that hopes to create the 3D experience of James Joyce’s “Ulysses.”
A team from Louisville, Whiskey Webs, hopes to utilize the content of American whiskey to create unique patterns as a “fingerprint” of whiskey to combat counterfeit drinks.
Pittsburgh’s HERL Lab created a Powered Wheelchair to assist in transport of patient with less burden on the caretaker. Also, Syracuse’s Arctic LiDAR team uses light to 3D map an entire area. Their team traveled to Russia to create a complete VR environment of the arctic coast. These architect students hope to utilize VR technology to visualize and immerse people in interior and exterior design.
Duke’s other project brought was Blue Devil Ocean Engineering which engineered a drone to map the ocean floor! There were also performances throughout the day that engaged all the visitors.
There were several more projects that can be found here:

Aside from the fabulous festival, we also got some time to visit other museums and monuments such as the Newseum, Holocaust Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and National Museum of Air and Space. We also got to stop by to see the beautiful cherry blossoms!

Left to right: Ian, Gaurav, Jake, Iris

This festival was such a great opportunity for our club and we feel honored to represent Duke at the nation’s capital. It was an exhilarating few days as we witnessed the junction of creativity and innovation and got to showcase how 3D printing is changing the world.

A huge thank you to everybody who made this trip and festival possible– The Smithsonian/National Museum of American History, Virginia Tech and their team, Duke Innovation and Entrepreneurship, especially Monika, the Innovation Co-lab and Duke for continued support, and most importantly our eNable club members for working tirelessly each week to innovate and create such amazing and great devices to help people!


Make, Tinker, Construct3D!

Last weekend, five members from eNable traveled down to the annual Construct3D: 3D Printing and Digital Fabrication for Education conference held at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, Georgia. We met and networked with members of the 3D printing and digital fabrication community from all diverse areas and backgrounds including tech companies such as Ultimaker, 3DPrinterOS, Makesea, as well as educators and personal makers. Additionally, we had a chance to meet Jon Schull, the founder of the global e-Nable community, and hear his insight on creating this network.

Buzz!! Georgia Tech hosts the conference. From left to right: Jaydeep, Iris, Gabe, Ian, and Jake
13 (2)
With Jon Schull (right), founder of e-Nable!

We heard George Hart talk, a professor, sculptor, and applied mathematician who 3D prints several unique structures. We were also fascinated by Nervous System, a design studio inspired by nature’s patterns that has worked on 3D printing jewelry, clothing, “infinity” puzzles, vases, and more.

Some additional workshops that we attended include:

Bon Ku’s Creating the Doctor of the FutureBon Ku’s group has implemented a workflow in which medical scans of the jaw are segmented and used to create patient-specific 3D models. The metal implants used in these particular jaw surgeries are usually shaped to the patient’s jaw during the surgery, i.e. while the patient is in the OR, and this can add a lot of time to the procedure. By using 3D printing to create plastic models of the jaw before surgery and using these models to contour the metal implants prior to beginning surgery, the time spent in the OR and the room for error during surgery are greatly reduced.

Grace Jun’s Designing Fashion Tech for Disability: Through the Rochester Institute for Art’s Summer session, Grace works with students to utilize 3D printing to enhance cloth functionality for those with disabilities. This could be from printed structures in clothes to help people get dressed with mobility loss in their hands or legs, or to accessories to help those access transportation around them.

-Andres Gonzalez’s Grasshopper introduction through Rhino for educational ease: This was a memorable workshop in which Andres took us on an educational adventure through Grasshopper, a highly visual and user-friendly programming interface for creating designs for the Rhino CAD program. Grasshopper is an excellent way to learn CAD for people of all ages because it can build complicated designs from the ground up by specifying and then manipulating many basic parameters. This is as opposed to discrete operation-based CAD programs like Fusion 360 and Solidworks, which are powerful but do not easily lend themselves to subtle manipulations of the design. Andres’ energy and passion for Grasshopper made this a very fun workshop.

-Brad Whitehead’s 3D Printing for Rockets and Robotics: Brad is a teacher in the Texas K-12 system who encouraged his students to use 3D printing as part of their design projects, with tremendous results. Not only has 3D printing allowed his robotics students to stray from their starter kits and build more custom robots for their FIRST competitions, it has also permeated through the school system so that other students working on diverse projects began to learn and use 3D printing in their designs. In the most memorable example, a student was able to 3D print a lightweight camera mount to put on his rocket so he could get footage of the flight and post it to YouTube. Brad is also taking his students to the younger grades to pique younger students’ curiosity in engineering and design and specifically increase the accessibility of STEM to young girls.

Jerry Qi’s 4D Printing: The ability of 3D prints to change size and structure post print based on temperature and time is explored in Dr. Qi’s laboratory. Prints can expand and shrink based on where the fibers are and the polyjet technique for voxel printing is used.
Vicente Gasco’s Storytelling for the blind through 3D Printing, including the Ugly Duckling
SketchUp’s creation of a sound proof phone booth through their program, a deodesk dome with tessellation, and even a custom-made arcade game that allows the user to use SketchUp!
-Cuyahoga Community College uses 3D printing to help Veterans as part of their capstone/senior project class. These are assistive devices made for those veterans who need help accomplishing tasks for ex. gardening, fishing, shaving.

And much, much, more!

We also shared our work during the poster session and had a chance to talk one-on-one with people, not only answering questions about the open source work we’ve done in the past few years but also gaining advice and insight others had to share with us about our research and development projects.

Ian and Jake explaining our work during the Construct3D Poster Session

This was an amazing opportunity for us and we’re excited to bring back some of the technology and insights learned from this conference. We’d like to thank Duke University, Chip Bobbert, and the Innovation Co-Lab as well as the Engineering Alumni Council and the Lord Foundation for helping make this trip possible!

Can you even tell these are 3D Printed??

Back to the Co-Lab!

A flurry of weather hasn’t stopped us from getting back into our work. Very eager students came out to our interest meeting and first general body meeting to learn more about our recipients and projects this year!

Interest Meeting ideas for cool device attachments!
First general meeting with a design challenge to create an attachment to help play an instrument

We also had a pop-up exhibit at The Ruby Makerspace’s Art+Tech Fair sponsored by the Co-lab and created a design challenge for our visitors. They had to draw a 3D Printed Wearable/Accessory. Congratulations to our winners:

1st place- Maddie Go “Swiss Army Barette” designed to aid young women in times of emergency
2nd place- Viraaj Punia, “Cup holder Belt” to store cans, bottles, and drinks on the go
3rd Place-  “Hand/Arm Cast” to bring fashion and support to injuries.
Honorable Mention- Kilian Sadowski de Prada, “Throwing Baseballpult” for practicing catch

Finally, we want to introduce our newest recipient, Logan, who is 4.5 years old and the world’s next superhero. You can catch him braving the monkey bars or pledging himself to Wakanda. We look forward to working with Logan!

Logan, superhero and fighter!

Wrapping up the year

As the 2017-2018 school year draws to a close, we would like to review what our club accomplished and share some of our hopes and goals for the coming year.

Three successful devices were delivered: one K1 hand with pinching capability and a fork holder for Brooke, one gripper thumb alteration with a harness design for Chris, and one Unlimb-ited Arm for Nathan. Additionally, we are closing out with Kaylyn (modular attachments) and hope to have final designs through the summer.

Successful delivery to Nathan! From left to right: Jake, Gaurav, Alex, Nathan, Nathan’s Dad, Joel, and Drew. Several others missing from delivery who also helped contribute to his final device!

Our community involvement has increased this year and we have loved engaging with generations both younger and older. In events partnering with Duke FEMMES and Splash, we challenged students in K-12 education to engage in the creative design process and introduced them to 3D printed technology. Meanwhile, alumni engagement and participation at the NCAAOP Conference  allowed us to take part in intellectual discussion on the open source contribution to 3D printing technology.

Partnership with FEMMES for a session of creative engineering for adaptive device technology

Additionally, our research and development branch has been working steadily towards creating a myoelectric arm. This year, we successfully captured EMG signals with a Myoband, and used the real time data to control a motor through an Arduino. The electrical team also made progress on a robust system to analyze signals with a Raspberry Pi. Our materials testing with PETG, Nylon, T-Glase, etc. has allowed us to expand our works from hands and arms to possibly legs, fingers, and other adaptive devices.

Near the end of the year, we also gained two new recipients! First is Alison, a young girl who seeks a lightweight device to perhaps grab or hold things. Her device will always be ongoing because of her growth, and we look forward to working with her through the years.

Our second recipient is Shawn C, who was born without most of his left hand. He never has relied on a medical grade prosthesis because he finds them heavy and bulky. However, as he is pursuing a career in plumbing, he came to us seeking something that could assist in carrying, holding, and gripping heavy objects. We hope to create something durable yet convenient for him!

Shawn, handyman!


Alison, lover of horses!







Looking into the future, we hope to work closely with these recipients and continue exploring our research and development projects. The club plans to continue its community outreach and attend an additional conference next year, Construct 3D ( for the latest 3D printing technology and networks. This will allow us to gain different perspectives on the world of open source devices, to complement what we learned at the NC AAOP Prosthetic conference last fall.

Finally, our executive team has transitioned leadership, and we are excited to welcome in the new executive board– Iris Chang as President, Gaurav Uppal as Vice President, Ian Eldridge-Allegra, Jake Robinson, and Jaydeep Sambangi as Senior Project Leads, and Claire Niederriter and Jason Chou as Project Leads. We will miss our seniors: Emily Shannon, who will be pursuing her Master’s degree at University of Pittsburgh’s O&P school, Joel Tewksbury, who will be attending the University of Chicago in Molecular Engineering, Gabriel Antoniak, who hopes to pursue graduate studies after a year of research at Duke, and Drew Levy, who will be interning in Houston before attending medical school later.

We want to give a shout-out to all our supporters and partners who have allowed us to grow so much this year, including Duke University’s Innovation Co-lab, Engineering Alumni Council, Lauren Stulgis and Dr. George Truskey, The Center for O&P Care, and many more organizations and people. We hope to accomplish even more in the future, and can’t wait for the adventure!

Our aging seniors… we will miss you! From left to right: Jay, Gabe, Emily, Drew, and Joel
2017-2018 Executive Board. From left to right: Jay, Gabe, Emily, Jake, Iris, Ian, Joel, and Gaurav
Executive board transition and senior dinner! From left to right: Gaurav, Claire, Iris, Emily, Drew, Joel, Gabe, Jake, Jason, and Ian

Delivering to Brooke!

After a year of designing, building, and testing out different prototypes with her, we have successfully completed and delivered a working adaptive hand device to Brooke! Since our last update, Brooke has moved back to North Carolina and is working in a pharmacy in Wilmington, so we were able to meet with her earlier this month to make this delivery.

Image uploaded from iOS

Brooke’s hand device is based off the K-1 hand, an open source model that uses wrist motion to close the fingers and enable grip. We made modifications to this design in order to capture a specific pinching motion that Brooke was looking for: in the final version, the index finger snaps down towards the thumb when she bends her wrist. With this movement and the non-slip material on the fingers, she can use this hand to pinch skin for administering subcutaneous injections. Another fun addition to this design is a fork-holder attachment, which we incorporated to help Brooke keep a grip on steak or other food while cutting with her other hand.

We have loved working with Brooke on this design, and are so grateful for her patience and enthusiasm!

NC AAOP Conference

Earlier this month, four members of the eNable team traveled to Charlotte to attend the annual meeting of the North Carolina state chapter of the American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists (NC AAOP). The conference agenda was packed with discussions on clinical practice, presentations on innovative research methods, and demonstrations of the newest technology in the field.

We heard from researchers at the Bao Lab (Stanford) and the Hugh Herr lab (MIT-Harvard) about really exciting technology and procedures that will one day revolutionize how prosthetic devices integrate with the body. We also had a few hands-on (pun intended) opportunities to learn about the Neofect Smart Glove, a wearable rehabilitation tool, and the Coapt pattern recognition system, which integrates myoelectric sensing and motor control into a system that allows a range of movements, speeds, and adaptability.

Also on the lineup was a panel on 3D printing in the O&P field — featuring two of our members! Emily and Gabriel participated in this panel to contribute to a discussion on the unique role of 3D printing in this field, and to add the mission and philosophy of Duke eNable to this conversation.

Gabriel and Emily on the 3D panel, alongside Richard Chi, Tyler Dunham, Jeff Erenstone, Brent Wright, and Barry Hand.

The panel opened our eyes to a critical nuance in the language we use. Our members are neither prosthetists nor medical professionals, and as such we are not building “prostheses” or working with “patients.” Rather, we are designing and fabricating recreational or adaptive devices for our recipients. Another key takeaway from the discussion is the importance of maintaining positive relationships with prosthetists. We are lucky to have already made connections in this community, and through this conference we were introduced to many more people who could be great assets to our organization. At the end of the day, we believe that we have very similar goals to prosthetists themselves – we want to use our skills and resources to improve someone’s quality of life. As long as we are aware of our abilities and limitations, and open to constructive feedback, we are confident that Duke eNable can continue making a positive impact.

HANDS down, ONE of the best experiences we’ve had with Duke eNable!

We would like to thank the NC AAOP chapter president, Brittany Stresing, for the invitation to attend this meeting. We are also grateful to the Duke Engineering Alumni Council and the Lord Foundation for their financial support, which made this experience possible.

Duke eNable starts its 2017-2018 season!

Hello all! Duke eNable has started our 2017-2018 season strong with a successful first interest meeting and general body meeting. We have split into several electrical teams and teams for our recipients Kaylyn and Nathan, and we have begun working on our first few projects. Looks like our members are excited for a productive year!

Getting to Know Brooke Reagan

Since we last introduced you to Brooke, she has graduated pharmacy school, accepted a full time pharmacy position in New Jersey, and has told us about how she became a pharmacist.

Hailing from North Carolina, Brooke has one sister who went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Born with a congenital amputation, she came to Duke around the age of 5 and received a hook prosthetic arm, but she never got used to it. She tried to wear it for about a week, but in the end found that she was better off without it.

Brooke majored in history with a concentration in women’s studies, focusing on women in Africa and the Middle East. She went to graduate school with hopes of becoming a history professor, but while working part time as a cashier at a pharmacy during her second semester, she realized her true calling and switched into pharmacy. She went back to community college and completed the prerequisites for Pharmacy School, an arduous task.

Before she went off to Pharmacy school, Brooke tried her chances with an aesthetic prosthetic hand, but unfortunately the lack of functionality forced her to leave the hand in the glove compartment of her car for most days.

She enjoys leisurely traveling and recently got a Great Dane puppy named Turtle! She plans to move back to North Carolina in the future with her fiancee who is the director of a hospital.

We’re excited to meet with Brooke again and deliver her arm!

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