4. Maker Spaces: Benefits of using open resources

(This video can be downloaded from Media Hopper Create.)

What are the benefits of a typical a Maker Space project?

If we think about the e-NABLE prosthetic hand project, the key benefits to the user community were affordability and accessibility.  A traditionally manufactured prosthetic hand could cost up to a hundred thousand dollars to manufacture. The prosthesis that you can now download, 3D print and construct yourself only costs around on hundred and fifty dollars to make. This makes it much more widely available, and because you can transfer the data required digitally, you can reach very remote places. All you need in a small village somewhere is a 3D printer and you can start to create prosthetic hands. This also saves the time it would take to travel into the city, get a prosthetic manufactured, fitted and delivered.

Is it worth sharing back if your project is just for personal use?

The original creator of the prosthetic hand was an accidental hero. He was designing something for himself, something that he thought was cool, which he let the world see by sharing it online. This led to other people contacting him for help and inspiring him to go on and create something that has since had a hugely positive impact on a lot of peoples lives.

So, what was the impact of the e-NABLE project?

The impact of this project was massive. What started as a collaborative project of a few hundred when it was first shared online, grew to over three thousand within twelve months. There were over seven hundred and fifty prosthetic hands made for people all round the world, often in remote places in Haiti, Syria, or Nigeria. Now, a few years on we have school children making hands and parents making hands for their kids. We have also seen some of the kids who benefited from the prosthetic hands go on to design improvements and contribute to the original model which can then go on to benefit other people down the line.

How did this affect the Maker community?

The effect was huge. There are now over eight thousand volunteers who offer up their 3D printing equipment to print prosthetics for people around the world. There are over eighteen different prosthetic hand designs for different purposes. Universities are contributing by testing the prosthetic hands to make sure they fulfil safety requirements across the world. It is a clear example that when you share something open source with a Maker community, it can lead to major innovations that have really positive benefits for the world.

How do you share back a design?

Instructables.com is a fantastic website for sharing instructions about how to create the things you make in a Maker Space. You simply set up a free account, hit publish and then you can add videos, pictures, files and text instructions. In the same way that you would share a step-by-step recipe for cooking something, you are able to share a recipe for making something. It’s completely free and easy to do. In fact if you have not done it before there is even an instructable that takes you through the process of putting together an instructable of your own.

Activity: Plan to share an instructable online

Watch the demo video to see how to share back a design with the instructables community.

Thinking about the thing you would like to make, and the changes you are making to the original instructables ‘recipe’:

  1. What are the different ingredients you will need to make your instructables ‘recipe’?
  2. What are the different steps you think you will need to take to make your object
  3. What would each video segment need to show?
  4. Where can you get videos or sound kit to make the instructable?
  5. How does a modification instructable differ from an original instructable?

Draw sketches and make notes for your idea.

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