The Kwawu Arm 2.0 – Story

It is hard to list all the inspiration for this design. The first Kwawu arm was done as improvements to Christina Silva’s design. I just wanted to make the design a little easer to print and more functional. I referred to it as the Kwawu arm, because I was doing the changes to meet the request by Ishmael Afful for a recipient named Kwawu in Ghana. With the help of Eric Bubar I sent a few arms to Ishmael. I then posted the design on Thingiverse. 

Almost right away people started downloading that design and emailing feedback. It was a wonderfully supportive community feeling. Once I started seeing pictures from Ishmael of the recipients and their big smiles, I knew I was hooked and had to make the design even better.


It is hard to list everyone I received great input from. But, I decided to redesign the whole thing when I saw the work of Jacques Monestier. He had made a design much like e-nable hands in 1977, long before 3-d printers. His design was completely hand crafted and manually driven by one string, but had an adaptable grip far more functional than any I had seen. I set out to make a 3-d printable hand that was as functional as his.

Even before I was introduced to the designs of Jacques Monestier I had been in conversations with many in the e-nable community. I had already designed the Lionel Arm with Jeff Erenstone. Jeff schooled me in much of the basics of prosthetic design. Conversations with Melvin Cruz, Joe Cross, and Ishmael Afful provided all sorts of great feedback. 

I incorporated as much of the ideas as I could into a design, and decided to release the source files from Fusion360 as a sort of Beta test.  Immediately I was getting great feedback from the e-nable community as people downloaded the files and started making prints. People like John Landreneau, Theirry Oquidam, Mohammed Baobaid, Steve Wood, Yoav Medan, Krzysztof Grandys, and Gilbert Cameron provided great feedback.

I was also working locally with a group of people at the Loveland Creatorspace. There happened to be a large group of very experienced 3D printer operators at this makerspace. Largely because Aleph Objects Inc. happens to be in Loveland. One of the variations of the Kwawu 2 arm is a socket design intended for recipients with short forearm residuals. Having been schooled by Jeff Erenstone that the shorter the residual the harder to fit, I decided I needed to test the design by fitting it myself. And, the group at the creator space wanted to help a recipient. So, through Enable Web Central we found Zadie in Kansas City. Zadie’s mom was very helpful in providing sizing information, Zadie was excited to pick colors and design ideas. We contacted Kansas City Science City so they could scan Zadie’s residual arm for our test-fitting. Together with Bruce Kronberg and John Skogen we made an arm for Zadie and hand delivered it to her, meeting at the  Kansas City Science City Maker Space.

Fitting Zadie’s arm was a great success. Within hours she was able to use the arm to pick of small objects. Other than a few small tweaks I knew the design was ready for