3D Printing: From Employee Hobby to Life-Changing Tech

At Code42, our employees firmly believe that technology can be used to make the world a better place. As an organization, we’re also big promoters of employees volunteering for organizations they believe in. Sometimes, the two beliefs come together seamlessly. Here’s an example of one philanthropic project that involves using technology for the greater good: making 3D-printed prosthetic hands.

Code42 Software Engineers Joseph Bozarth and Tom Florin have been working with e-NABLE, a nonprofit that allows volunteers to create hands and arms “for those who were born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.” The Washington state-based organization is entirely operated by volunteers who create free 3D-printed hands and arms for people around the world in need of an upper limb assistive device. While many of the prosthetics are suitable for and strong enough for plumbers and electricians, many of the individuals the organization works with are children, who will need prosthetics of several different sizes as they grow.

The Code42 volunteers

Joseph and Tom have both been with Code42 since 2016. Tom said one of the big attractions to working here is the company’s “strong unselfish desire to see us succeed in building things.” Joseph agreed. “Being afforded the opportunity to take time off to give back to the community to make a difference is rarer than it should be,” he said. Both say they’ve never worked anywhere before that supported volunteering.

Around Code42, both Tom and Joseph are well-known for their shared “addiction” to 3D printing. “A while back, Tom came to me and asked if I would be interested in getting involved with an organization that involves 3D-printing for those in need,” said Joseph. e-NABLE provided a perfect outlet.

“ Getting the chance to work on projects that give back to the community is rewarding. I’d be doing this project even if I didn’t work at Code42, but it is nice to know that my company is supportive and encouraging of my efforts. ”

How it’s helping today

“Traditional prosthetics can be extremely expensive,” said Joseph. “Most people, I don’t think, realize just how expensive a prosthetic can be and to significantly lower that barrier for people is great.” A traditional basic hook-style prosthetic can easily cost $400 to $600. Joseph stressed that the costs can stack up considerably for children, who will need multiple prosthetics as they grow.

In comparison, printed hands cost under $20, and they can easily be enlarged as kids grow. Tom added that while they’re helping make prosthetics more affordable, they also are helping children express themselves. “I have seen volunteers even theme the prosthetics after superheroes like Captain America or Iron Man.”

Bringing it all home

Volunteering helps others, of course, but it also benefits those who do the volunteering. Tom said that this work has helped him learn more about 3D printing in general and how this young field is full of untapped potential. “I think that having the opportunity to work on projects like this is special because it shows Code42 is aware of the needs of others.”

“Having creative outlets, in general, is important to stay engaged at any job,” added Joseph. “Getting the chance to work on projects that give back to the community is rewarding. I’d be doing this project even if I didn’t work at Code42, but it is nice to know that my company is supportive and encouraging of my efforts.”

Code42 supports the efforts of volunteers like Tom and Joseph with our Volunteer Time Off (VTO) program. Since 2016, we’ve been promoting volunteerism via Code42 Cares, giving every employee two paid days off per year to volunteer for causes they’re passionate about.

For more information about e-NABLE, including how to become an approved creator for the organization, visit enablingthefuture.org.

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