Learn a little about the grassroots, open-source e-NABLE Community and our history!

The e-NABLE Community is an amazing group of individuals from all over the world who are using their 3D printers to create free 3D printed hands and arms for those in need of an upper limb assistive device.

They are people who have put aside their political, religious, cultural and personal differences – to come together and collaborate on ways to help improve the open-source 3D printable designs for hands and arms for those who were born missing fingers or who have lost them due to war, disease or natural disaster.

The e-NABLE Community is made up of  teachers, students, engineers, scientists, medical professionals, tinkerers, designers, parents, children, scout troops, artists, philanthropists, dreamers, coders, makers and every day people who just want to make a difference and help to “Give The World A Helping Hand.”

April 2011 | It All Began with Cosplay Nerds!

In April of 2011, artist and designer Ivan Owen created a crazy metal functional puppet hand to wear to his first-ever steampunk convention with his fellow artist and friend, Jen Owen.

Ivan’s giant metal hand was a huge hit at the event and when they returned home from their adventure, he decided to post a short video of it on Youtube.

December 2011 | The Email

The video that Ivan shared was somewhat forgotten about until one evening, he opened his email to see a message from Richard, a carpenter in South Africa who had lost his fingers in a woodworking accident. Richard asked Ivan if he would be interested in helping him to create a functional finger replacement after he had searched online and discovered that a single prosthetic finger would cost him around $10,000 US Dollars.

He had been trying to design his own, but came upon the video that Ivan had uploaded and reached out for help.

January – October 2012 | Collaboration Across 10,000 Miles

Because Ivan and Richard were 10,000 miles apart, they had to work together through skype and email.

In early January of 2012, Richard sent a plastic mold of his hand to Ivan so that Ivan could design a device specifically for him.

corporal coles

Ivan started researching prosthetic devices and stumbled upon the story of Corporal Coles hand. It was created in the early 1800’s by an Australian dentist named Dr. Robert Norman who constructed it from whalebone, cables, and pulleys. This one hand, created over 100 years prior, inspired the design of what is now the building block for every e-NABLE Community 3D printed hand.

During the design process, they had to use objects they could both find around their homes and respective countries. Sometimes this involved items such as toilet paper tubes, leather scraps, zip ties, fishing line, rubber bands, surgical tubing, duct tape and various other items they could find.

March 2012 – First Blog is Created

As Ivan and Richard started making progress on the design for a single finger, Jen had started photographing the stages of development and sharing with her family and friends on social media channels. She decided it would be easier and more fun to create a blog, so that those that were interested in following their story, could visit and read about their adventures.

The Media started picking up their stories.

November 2012 – Time to Meet in Person

In early September, Ivan and Richard realized they had gone just about as far as they could go through online communication. They started a crowdfunding campaign to help get Ivan to South Africa so that he and Richard could work in person.

While they were raising money for airfare, a generous donor provided frequent flier miles so that Ivan could get to South Africa.

November 2012 – Along Came Liam

As more news articles and social media clips started circulating about Ivan and Richard’s work on a single finger design, people started reaching out to them personally to ask for help.

One of those people was Yolandi, the mother of a 5-year-old boy named Liam. Their family also lived in South Africa and she had read that Ivan was planning to fly down there to help Richard and had hoped he would be able to help her son too.

Liam was born missing his fingers on his right hand due to Amniotic Band Syndrome. He had never had fingers on his right hand before, so he had learned to do everything without them.

She had read the blog and had seen stories on Facebook. She messaged to ask if Ivan and Richard would be interested in creating a whole hand for her son, instead of just the single finger.

November 2012 | The First Prototype for an e-NABLE Hand Came to Life.

Yolandi had reached out just in time.

With just 3 days before he was set to leave on his journey, Ivan was able to take the design for that giant mechanical hand he had created for that first Steampunk convention, and shrink it down to a tiny 4 fingered version that he would be able to take with him to South Africa.

November 2012 | The World Was Waiting

After Ivan boarded his flight to head off on his long journey to meet Richard in South Africa, Jen asked people to send her videos and photos of themselves with words of encouragement for them.

Friends, family and even strangers showered them with images of inspirational quotes written on their hands, holding up posters and sending love to them from afar.

Thanksgiving 2012 | Liam’s New Hand

With a limited number of days available to work in person once he landed in South Africa 28 hours after leaving the USA, Ivan and Richard jumped right into finalizing the single finger prototype for Richard.

They then invited Liam’s family over for a full day of building what would ultimately become the original e-NABLE hand.

Liam was able to help build his very own hand.

It was made from aluminum bar stock, rivets, screws, copper tubing, fishing line and some thermoplastic. While it was bulky, awkward and still missing a thumb, Liam was able to strap it to his arm and pick up a ball and other objects for the first time in his life.

December 2012 | Liam’s Progress

Little Liam practiced daily with his new hand with the help of his mom and brother.

She created exercises for him to do at home and sent videos to Ivan to share.

Liam was determined to make his new hand work and learn how to use it, instead of getting frustrated and giving up. Because of this, Ivan and Richard were able to see how he was using the hand to get ideas for improvements for the next design.

December 2012 | The First 3D Printed Prosthetic Hand for a Child

While creating that first hand prototype for Liam, Ivan and Richard realized that because of his age, Liam would quickly outgrow the device and it would be exhausting trying to keep remaking it out of the same materials.

Ivan started researching the use of 3D printing to create the next version.

He taught himself how to use 3D printer design software and contacted Makerbot, a 3D printer company to ask if they would be interested in donating a 3D printer so that he could make new hands for Liam as he grew.

Makerbot was excited to see what they were doing and donated 2 3D printers so that Ivan could design and send the files to Richard via email, who would then in turn print them out on his machine and assemble into a hand for Liam to test out.

They called the first device a “Robohand.”

Liam would then give them feedback on what was working and what didn’t feel good in each new design until they came up with the final prototype for him.

January 2013 | The first 3D Printed Open-Source Design is Shared with the World

After watching Liam with his new 3D printed hand they all realized that if this design could help one child, it could potentially help thousands.

They made the collective decision to forego any potential to make profits from this design and instead, published it to the internet as an open-source, public domain file so that anyone, anywhere in the world with access to a 3D printer – could make one for themselves or someone else in need.

The best chance for the design to help the most people, was to share it and hope those other designers would find it and improve it and reshare it back into the world.

July 2013 | The e-NABLE Google Plus Community is Born

In exchange for the donating two 3D printers, Makerbot asked that they get to create a video to share about the first 3D printed hand prosthesis for Liam.

Once the video was shared, fellow makers and 3D printing enthusiasts started leaving comments on the video to state that they would be interested in helping to make 3D printed hands for other people who may need them too.

Jon Schull, then a professor at RIT, noticed that people were interested in helping and decided to start a Google Plus community where they could gather and communicate. He set up a Google Map where those who had 3D printers and wanted to help, could put a pin to show their location and let those who needed a 3D printed hand know how to find them.

He left a comment on the video and invited people to join.

By the end of July, the first 70 e-NABLE Volunteers had joined the Google plus community and were actively working on cleaning up the designs and trying to locate recipients.

January 2014 | The enablingthefuture.org Website is Created

Jen suggested that this new community allow her to start sharing their stories and create a blog. With their permission and the permission of the recipient families, she created enablingthefuture.org – the home of the e-NABLE Community’s history and stories of inspiration and hope.

The media started picking up the stories and families with limb different children started finding the e-NABLE Community and asking for help.

January – September 2014 – e-NABLE Superheroes

Famlies starting finding the Google Plus Community and volunteers began creating devices for recipients and connecting with these families. Parents of limb different children were joining and becoming designers and makers of these hands themselves.

Designers started getting creative with and the recipients were eager to get their own “Super Hero” hands.

Many of the children who have upper limb differences, tend to be bullied or feel very self-conscious and tend to hide their hands and arms.

Now, with superhero themed hands, they were suddenly the envy of everyone in the class.

Volunteers started teaching families and recipients how to assemble their own devices. Children were building their own 3D printed hands and learning how to teach others to do the same.

September 2014 | e-NABLE’s First Conference

In September of 2014, Dr. Albert Chi, a leading trauma surgeon learned about e-NABLE and invited the community to hold a conference at Johns Hopkins Medical Center.

They called it “Prosthetists Meets Printers.”

Over 400 people attended. The participants were made up of medical professionals, hand therapists, medical students, e-NABLE volunteers and 25 recipients and their families.

In just 72 hours, the global e-NABLE Community had been given a call to action to send as many 3D printed hand parts as possible to the conference so that volunteers could teach not only medical professionals how to assemble the devices, but also the families and recipients.

December 2014 | The First Hand-A-Thon is Born

After attending the e-NABLE Conference and joining the e-NABLE Community, volunteer Maria Esquela put together an event with local scout troops in Baltimore. She created the first-ever e-NABLE “Hand-a-thon” where over 100 boy and girl scouts, their parents and mentors spent their entire Saturday, working in teams to assemble 3D printed hands.

The hands were boxed up and sent to a clinic on the Syrian border where children and adults who had lost their hands due to war, were waiting for them.

January 2014-December 2015 | Design Boom

Throughout 2014, the e-NABLE Community exploded with new designs. Designers were joining by the thousands.

By the end of 2015, the first 3D printed, low cost, myo-electric version had been developed.

Teachers starting using e-NABLE as an example of how 3D printing could be used as STEM based learning projects in their classrooms. Thousands of students all over the world started participating in the project.

e-NABLE Today

The e-NABLE Google Plus Community started with around 100 people who were simply offering to print the files that were already in existence. A handful of devices had been made for children in various parts of the world.

Within that first year – the e-NABLE community grew from 100 members to over 3000. They created over 750 hands for people around the world and numerous new designs had been developed. The designers reshared those files into the public domain as open-source designs.

Within another year – they had more than doubled to nearly 7000 members with approximately 2000 devices created and gifted to individuals in over 45 countries.

All of these 3D printed hands and arms were free to the end user thanks to the incredible volunteers in our community.

By the end of 2018, the e-NABLE Community had over 10,000 members.

As of November 2019, nearly 7 years after the first device was created for Liam out of metal and scrap materials, there have been approximately 7,000 3D printed hands and arms created and gifted to children and adults in need in over 100 countries around the world. There are an estimated 30,000 e-NABLE Volunteers (Including students and teachers) who are helping to make a difference in their local communities, clinics and schools all across the globe.

There are over a dozen new designs and more being shared every day.

The e-NABLE Community has over 140 e-NABLE Chapters and hundreds of schools participating in helping to make free 3D printed hands for those in need.

You never know where your ideas and imagination will take you!

Will you join us?

Together, we can change the world.

“Now all the fingers of this tree (darling) have hands, and all the hands have people; and more each particular person is (my love) alive than every world can understand…” – E.E. Cummings

Liam with one of his 3D printed e-NABLE hands.

76 thoughts on “ABOUT US

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  6. john marchlik Reply

    I sure am proud of your accomplishments.
    May God continue to bless you.
    May St Joseph help you
    john marchlik
    Aston, Pa

  7. Derek Wagner Reply

    This is beautiful!
    What wonderful people getting involved in this most worthy endeavour.

  8. robert yancey owner sewing solutions Reply

    I would donate a 1000.00 to research to stop hot car deaths. any ideas for a comprehensive alarm system to detect and protect children from hot car death.

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Thank you for your comment! Currently we are working on making prosthetic hands and arms – but there are many people out there in the world with 3d printers that may be able to tackle something like that!

  9. Melody P. Townsend Reply

    What you have done for this child is miraculous and wonderful! I am the grandmother of a 15 month old granddaughter who was born with PFFD (Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency) and I am desperate to help her lead a normal life. She is currently trying to walk with her second prosthesis and a gait walker, but her prosthesis will not stay on very well and prohibits her from many activities. Does the possibility exist that 3D printers may help people with leg deformities in your opinion? I have been researching her condition for months and I am in the process of contacting Shriner’s Orthopeadic for assistance as well. I am seeking any information from as many sources as possible and would so appreciate any help you could provide. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for any help, etc.!

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hello Melody! We do not currently work with lower limb devices but have seen folks who have created some customized leg covers but do not know if anything fully 3D printed has come about for legs just yet. If you google 3D Printed Prosthetic legs – many images and pages come up! It looks like there are people working on it out there in the world!

      Thank you for stopping by to say hello! I hope you find something for her!

    • Mark Deadrick Reply

      You might want to contact Andre Szucs. He is developing prosthetic legs here in San Diego with a lot of 3D printing assistance. He even was involved with the President’s maker fest at the White House earlier in the year.



  10. Linda Reply

    I am a mother of a daughter who has a mild form of cerebral palsy. She cannot use her right hand as well since it is weaker and the fingers don’t open as easily for her. Is it possible to use the gauntlet with cords attached to a glove to open her fingers and give them more function as her wrist moves normally?

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Hi Linda! We are actually working on an exo-skeleton specifically for these types of cases and will have something to share about it soon! It is still in the prototyping phase but we have something functional working already! Please keep an eye on our page for when we share!

  11. Amos Carroll Reply

    Hi this is amazing, I am a 53 yr old man and I ride bikes. I have always wanted something like this to help me with clutching my bike. If this is strong to do that I would love to have one. I was burn at the age of 6 months and lost fingers on both hands. The left hand is the worst. So if I am leaving this message in the right, it would be a blessing for someone to contact me about how I can, or if I qualify for one. My number is 850 661 1450, and my name is Amos Carroll. Thanks in advance.

  12. Donna Heeringa Reply

    I am the mother of a 9 year old little girl, adopted from China in 2007. She was born with missing radius bones. On her left hand she has five fingers, but only her pinky works correctly. On her right hand she has one large mono-digit. Is there anything your group could do for Emily??

  13. Tony Matias Reply

    Wanted to let you know that I find this project absolutely amazing and wonderful in so many ways!! I was wondering if any of your designs use conductive finger pads on the fingertips? That way they could be used on tablets and smartphones. Maybe it’s something you or your partners can explore. Again.. I think this is a great achievement that you’ve created and I’m saving up my money to buy a printer to, one day, be part of this all!! Keep it up!!

    • Warm Fuzzy Revolutionist Reply

      Thank you Tony!

      Most of our recipients are young children and they are more interested in riding their bikes and playing ball with all 10 fingers and many of them are more skilled with the tablets and smart phones without the e-NABLE hands on and don’t seem to be too interested in finger pads on the actual devices. But this is a great idea for the older users! Thank you!

      Feel free to join us in the Google+ group!

  14. Hallgrimur Finnbogason Reply

    This organization is amazing! This is the most useful site I’ve come across in my research for 3D printed hands for my 4 y/o son, who currently believes that his hand will grow to be “normal” when he gets older.

    I’m looking for some assistance in this matter on how to get started on printing one for him.

    I’m a resident in Iceland and I haven’t heard of many people/organizations here that could help me except Γ–ssur, which of course costs a fortune.

    Best regards,

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hello Hallgrimur!

      We would love to help get a hand up there in Iceland! I think you would definitely be our first!

      Please email us at letsgetstarted@enablingthefuture.org and it should bounce you to our intake form and get you started on getting in touch with our matcher and seeing about finding a maker that is closer to you to help print and assemble for your son. πŸ™‚

      Feel free also to email me at info@enablingthefuture.org (My name is Jen)

  15. Abby Reply

    We were using the beta hand measuring tool and the file it sent us isn’t being read by our MakerBot 3D printer. Has anyone else had this problem? Or is it just us?


  16. Bill deimling Reply

    Hello. Wow!!!! I am a co-founder of “May We Help” in Cincinnati Ohio. We do 3-D printing of gadgets to help people with various disabilities, a lot of them for musical reasons. We will be contacting you for your help in developing some things on the hand and possibly the foot. We do everything for free as you do. Once again, wow!!!! Check out our web site maywehelp.com We do lots of things that do not involve 3-D printing but what you have is wonderful. God bless.

  17. Clarice Blake Reply

    Do you have anyone in Indianapolis, IN that will produce a hand for a 5 year old boy.

  18. Jon Garratt Reply

    Hi , I’m looking into buying a 3D printer here in the UK , and am very interested in joining your network of helpers , I have over 25 years experience in manufacturing , engineering in various forms etc , my budget for a printer will be in the region of Β£800 – Β£1,500 ….in your experience could you recommend any reliable and accurate printers in this price range , your input would be very helpful.

    Kind Regards


    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hi Jon! Please visit our 3D printer page in our resources section! That might be helpful!

  19. Alana Reply

    My name is Alana and I’m an eighth grader in California. I recently found out about E-Nable through an article in the news, and was so interested that I’ve decided to make my science presentation about it. For this presentation, I’m required to do a demonstration, and I’d really love to have an example of a 3d printed prosthetic to demonstrate how it supports those in need. Yet, I am unsure as to how to make this work. My presentation is on the 27th. If you have any ideas, you can contact me whenever it works for you. I tried email but I have not received a response back in almost a month.. Thank you for any assistance you can provide me!

  20. William Reply

    I think you have done great things with the prosthetic arm and limbs but sadly a friend’s cousin has severe DMD and needs help walking or has to but very expensive leg supports. I know this would take lots of work but I think you would get funding from the national muscular distraphy association if you impart on it

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Unfortunately – our home based printers do not print in strong enough materials to be able to hold the weight of a person. πŸ™

  21. Joseph Reply

    I think its very good and nice to help biuld hands my class has a 3d printer and were making hands for kids.

  22. Amela Mrkonjic Reply

    How can I get aqua leg for low cost . I’m disabled with no leg and they are so expensive

    • Jen Owen - E-NABLE Post authorReply

      Hello Amela – unfortunately, we do not make legs at this time. Someday we hope to in the future but currently we only have designs for hands and arms.

  23. Anu Goel Reply

    Hi..I’m writing from India. My son has 2 fingers(thumb & small finger) adjoining each other in his right hand. Would it be possible to customize a gloved hand for better use of his hand?

  24. Marita Reply

    What a fantastic service you are providing for others! You people are wonderful.

  25. Charles Cyne Reply

    I would like to submit my first hand and I was wondering if it needs to be fully rigged or are you just evaluating the printed hand?

    I look forward to your reply


    Charlie Clyne

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hi Charlie!

      You can just send it in as a kit if you would like! We have folks that will look to make sure the print quality is up to speed and then the unassembled kits can be packed up and shipped to places that need them! πŸ™‚ You are also welcome to assemble it as far as you can or want to. Its really up to you! Thank you for joining us!

      • Charlie Clyne

        Thank you for your quick reply. After you evulate do you offer feedback? Also, if you send the hands in to a recipient, will we be able to find out who received it and how well it works for them?


  26. William K. Grefe Reply


    I would like to introduce you to a boy named Julian I met through an event called Neighbors in Need over thanksgiving. He is a great kid full of energy kid, easy going funny kid. He was born with a partial left arm with a functional elbow. I have seen the enable arms that have been developed that can accommodate a person with a working elbow.

    I was wondering if a batman inspired armor arm would be plausible.

    I submitted the form and pictures last week to enable.

    He likes:
    Favorite Superhero: Batman
    Favorite Color: Red
    Favorite Shape: Squares
    Favorite animals: Sea pigs, California spiny lobster, Halibut
    Favorite Plane: The Ocean

    William K Grefe

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello William! We have a lot of volunteers who could potentially help and it looks like you filled out the form and are now waiting to be matched! If you find that you aren’t getting matched as quickly as you would like and want to try to build it yourself, please feel free to join the Google+ community and they can help you through the build!

  27. Cathy Reply

    Hello my name is Cathy and Melissa and we have a chihuahua who doesn’t have two working legs. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you so much

  28. Carla Lazcano Reply

    Congratulations, yesterday I saw in ChileanΒ΄s tv this news and Im very proud by your job. Change and help another people is a gift, you are the best in this. Only I wanna you continue with this and development more proyects cos you are good, I know this is to help people, God bless you for a really great job.

  29. francis Reply

    All i wanna say is God bless e-NABLE Volunteer Ghana chapter.Am new and i wanna partner with you guys.I will be attending the workshop at Afia Beach Hotel 21/feb/2016.seee you there. 2pm-6pm

  30. The Rev. Gerardo L. Cabije Reply

    In what way your group could help people with disability? What happened next after your printed designs? I am interested to know because I need help. I need prosthesis for both my legs (bk left & right). I met a slight accident last 2013 while facilitating a seminar/workshop on values formation for local residents here in the Phil. My right foot was hit by a sharp object that caused infection later due to unknown blood sugar excess. The wound was taken for granted until it was decided to have it amputated. two years later (last year), same thing happened to my left leg, now due to diabetic foot. I am serving a poor community of indigenous people here as an Episcopal Priest, but I have to stop my mission work in the ministry due to my physical disability and financial incapability due to my present condition. But i do hope and pray, God willing that I could still go back to my work and ministry when Im able to walk again. I am hoping and praying there are generous people out there who are willing to help me or recommend me to some groups or organizations who are willing to help fund for my prosthetic legs so I could go back to my mission work in the ministry. I know, by God’s help miracle is just around the corner. May you be God’s miracle for me. God bless you all! – Fr. Gerry L. Cabije, (Phil.)

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello Fr. Gerry – thank you for visiting our website. At this time, our volunteers can not make legs/feet or lower body devices due to the size of our home based printers, the materials that are not strong enough to bear the weight of a person and because they need to be fitted by a medical professional. You may want to email support@enablecommunityfoundation.org and they may be able to connect you with other medical professionals who have more answers for you than I do. Be well and take care. – Jen

  31. Cesar Mordacci Reply

    Hi! I am a graphic designer working on an article on e-NABLE and 3D printed prosthetics. I have been having trouble finding press-quality pictures to show that are also licensed for commercial use. Where can I get them? Thank you in advance.

  32. keith atkisson Reply

    I’m making the phoenix hand exclusively. What I need to know is the ages, male and female, associated with all the percentages of this hand including the 100% hand. such as; 105, 110. 115, 120, 125, 130, 135, 140, 145, 150, 155, 160, 165, 170%. Our nonprofit makes hands exclusively at this time, however, in the future we also need to do feet and legs also. Do you know of a website or person I can contact that can help us out with 3d printing prosthetic feet and legs? We need to serve landmine victims also.

    Thank you very much and have a great day.

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello – Unfortunately, there are no numbers to share at this time as each size is not for specific ages, it is for specific hand shapes and individual needs. Generally, children need sizes from about 105% to around 140% and adults go larger.

      You are welcome to ask in the Forums and Google+ group for more specifics though!

  33. Mitchell cowan Reply

    Ok when I read this it made me so happy,keep doing this for the people of the world

  34. Judy Payne Reply

    Your video brought tears to my eyes. My son and his wife are in the process of adoption of three children. The middle child has only a couple of fingers on each hand. Son is in California in the Marine Corp. Is there any place he can go for a class on making 3 d printed hands?

    • Jen Owen - e-NABLE Volunteer Post authorReply

      Hello Judy! Thank you!! There are many places he can go to get help to make a 3D printed hand for his child! Please have him check the “Chapters” page and also the “Get involved” page and see if there is a makerspace, library or school near him with a 3d printer and if not, please have him email me at jen.owen@enablingthefuture.org πŸ™‚

  35. Cameron Spencer Reply

    I am a boy scout and am following in the footsteps of another San Diego scout to make 3-D hands for my Eagle Project. I have printed out all of the parts at the Maker Lab at the central library. I have started to fill out the paperwork on my Eagle Scout project proposal. One of the things I need is a beneficiary’s signature. Can your organization do that for me?
    Cameron Spencer

  36. mayank Reply

    can you give information regarding e-nable volunteers in india?

  37. Ian Willis Reply

    can you please supply information on any contacts in UK, my daughter had her left hand amputated due to Sepsis, also she only has part of her right hand, only complete finger is her thumb. She has looked at standard prosthetics but all are very heavy and impractical,

  38. Carolina Reply

    This is so great! Thanks for changing the lives of beautiful children!

  39. Felipe Reply

    Hi Enable community, for my last year of Biomedical Engineering, I developed a robotic arm controlled by muscle signals which is based on the Raptor hand. And to say thank you for the 3D printing files uploaded here, I would like to give a little back and make my dissertation research open source, so people can see what I did and improve it for themselves! If anyone is interested in it or know how I can upload it here, please let me know.

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