We are interested in bringing 3D printing to remote parts of Asia for the purpose of printing artificial limbs through the Enabling the Future volunteer program. We are based in Hong Kong at the moment and would like to know more about 3D printing, materials and ideas. Could you recommend anyone to get in touch with about this, someone who could show us a simple 3D printing setup and talk us through the process and pricing.

I have a Physics PhD background, but have not attempted 3D printing and would like to get a better understanding of methods and materials.

We would thoroughly appreciate any advice or people that you could give us.


Hello Natalie,

I’m a volunteer at e-NABLE and I’m printing/assembling prosthetic hands in the Netherlands. Currently I’m using the Ultimaker 2 with PLA/PHA filament from ColorFabb.com. Both (printer and filament) should be available in Hong Kong, but I think there will be some extra costs for shipping.

I think the Ultimaker 2(+) is a very reliable 3D printer. Compact, fast, user friendly and robust, but above all it’s a workhorse.

I’m able to print all parts of the Raptor Reloaded hand (adult size 130%) in one 18-hour shift with a layer height of 200 microns. The PLA/PHA material is much stronger than regular PLA, which makes the hand quite sturdy. PLA/PHA is biodegradable and not fully loaded with chemicals.

I also have a contact in the south of the Philippines who is interested in e-NABLE. If you’d like I can bring you in contact with him.

Best regards,

Erik Robberts

Take a look at the time lapse of my first e-NABLE print.


Hello Erik,

Thank you so much for getting in contact with us. Your tips and advice are excellent and we really appreciate you getting back to us. We will be meeting up with an expert from the 3D Hong Kong Printing association and have made contact with a few people that work with generating funding for such projects as this. We would really appreciate if you could put us in contact with the person from the Phillippines who is interested in ENABLE, so we might see what we can do together. You are right that we must consider whether to ship from e.g. Hong Kong, or try and set up a base closer to the area we intend to deliver limbs, but then we will have to import the materials, which brings it’s own problems. Also if we were to set up closer to the area, we would need a secure location and uninterrupted electricity, which also may be an issue. We are trying to build an understanding of all sides of this project and we really appreciate your contact and support.

May I ask about the lifetime of your hands that you have made, the fitting process and how many adjustments you typically need to make after printing? I am also very interested to know about common issues or problems that arise during 3D printing that causes wasted time or money.

Thank you very much again for your contact and we look forward to hearing from you.

Dr. Haustrup

Hello Natalie,

Good to hear from you! I’m happy to see that you are willing to help with the e-NABLE program.

I think that the first thing to do is to connect to the e-NABLE Google+ community and participate at a e-NABLE Chapter Call. Tell about your plans.

If I understood correctly your goal is to set up new ‘e-NABLE chapters’ around Asia. Here is a map with the current chapters.

The contact in the south of the Philippines is my father-in-law. He is eager to participate and is able to enable his local network for getting more local people involved. My parents-in-law are living near Ozamis and they have a connection through a cousin with the Misamis University, who is working there. I think that is a great location for a chapter.

Some important things to know about 3D printing in that region is:

  • Like you mentioned: Reliable power source.
    The power in that region can be a problem. Brownouts are a common thing. I think a UPS is needed to prevent 3D prints failing.
  • The moist.
    The climate in Ozamis is tropical. The moist will affect the quality of the filament. It is important to keep the filament dry (in bags with silica gel bags inside).
  • In the Philippines you can import your supplies using a Balikbayan box. My father-in-law is able to help with that.

The lifetime of the hands depends on how somebody is using it. The PLA/PHA material is quite strong at normal temperatures but will be much weaker at temperatures above 60 degrees Celsius. And because it is 3D printed, it has visible print lines which can collect dirt. Other materials are available. Stronger and heat resistant, but I have no experience using these materials.

About the Ulitmaker 2(+) I told you about: Ultimaker just released their new Ultimaker 3 today.

You can contact me for more information at robberts.erik@gmail.com.

Best regards,

Erik Robberts