Thousands of visitors came to the Ottawa Mini Maker Faire at the Canada Museum of Science and Technology last weekend. They came as families, couples and groups of friends; most from Ottawa, but some from as far away as Quebec City.
At the AgoraLab kiosk, Phonesavanh and I had a 3D printer on display, next to e-NABLE’s 3D printed prosthetic parts, an assembly kit and an actual prosthetic on loan from Jon Schull of the Enabling the Future organization.
People of all ages were very curious. Some visitors were already familiar with the e-NABLE story. They had seen a documentary or read about the puppeteer who developed a mechanical prosthetic for a carpenter who had cut off his fingers. For the vast majority, however, the idea of a 3D printed prosthetic was a novelty. Many were puzzled by the design of the Cyborg Beast hand and had to touch and test it. They wanted to know how well it worked. In retrospect, I wished we had video clips on a monitor to show them how well its users could grasp things. We distributed many information sheets in English and French, encouraging people to volunteers with the e-NABLE community and to check video clips on the Enablingthefuture.org website.
We had several in-depth conversations about what makes the e-NABLE community so remarkable: for example, the use of an e-NABLE world map on the Internet for the recruitment of passionate volunteers and the localization of recipients of prosthetics, the fact that designs and educational material are open source and easy to access, the cost of 3D printed prosthetics compared to commercial solutions, and finally, the generosity of those who donate prosthetics. Many people felt that the e-NABLE community truly contributes to a better and kinder world.
I expect that several people will register as e-NABLE volunteers. One person expressed a desire for a similar ecosystem devoted to addressing the needs of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
My favourite quote: « Now I have a good reason to buy a 3D printer. »