Orthotics is an area of medicine that focuses on developing artificial devices to support a limb or the spine. We present some of the most promising 3D printed orthotics, which aim to reduce costs, improve customization, and provide better support.
Orthotics are devices worn by people to support their body. The most common type of orthotics are shoe insoles. They can be used to correct foot and ankle problems non-surgically. For more serious or debilitating conditions, traditional ankle-foot orthotics can be used to help support and stabilize an individual. Such conditions include cerebral palsy, osteoarthritis or nerve damage.
In order for these devices to be effective, they need to be custom designed and manufactured. In addition to requiring fitting sessions, the device itself can take more than a few weeks to be delivered.
3D printing entering the industry has allowed several groups to simplify fitting and customizing thanks to 3D scanning. On the manufacturing side, 3D printing has also significantly reduced the amount of time required to deliver orthotic devices to patients.
In the following, we take a look at some of the most promising 3D printed orthotic projects of 2018.
RS Print is the company behind Phits, a joint venture between RSscan and Materialise that started in April 2014.
RSscan provides plantar pressure measurement and gait analysis to aid in the development of insoles. Materialise then provides them with a mass customization process, allowing for the production of personalized insoles on a large scale using selective laser sintering (SLS).
These insoles have been so successful that athletes have worn and successfully won triathlons with the help of Phits 3D printed insoles.
HP announced its entry into the 3D printed orthotic industry in 2017 with the creation of FitStation. The platform 3D scans the consumer’s feet, measures foot pressure and analyzes gait. With the resulting data, HP is able to create a fully-customized insole.
The system prints the insole using HP’s Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. The technique enables printing at the voxel level, providing a much better quality insole at half the cost.
You can learn more about FitStation and its availability here at All3DP.
In 2017, KW Special Projects (KWSP), an engineering solutions firm in the UK is developing a “while you wait” service for personalized 3D printed insoles.
In cooperation with orthotics manufacturer Podfo and researchers from Newcastle University, the team hopes to create an orthotics kit that will allow clinicians to create custom sole and gait profiles for patients. The idea is to build the orthotic on-site while the patient waits.
You can learn more about KWSP and its upcoming availability here at All3DP.
Andiamo was formed after a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2014. Its orthotics service is now live in the UK and parts of Europe.
Andiamo’s goal is to produce orthotic solutions for disabled children. Their story began with nine years old, Diamo Parvez who died of complications with cerebral palsy. As with most patients with the disease, he required orthoses to support his body. Unfortunately, such devices can take up to six months to perfect and, for children, require frequent refittings.
Diamo’s parents, Naveed and Samiya Pervez, established the company after his death. They utilize 3D scanning and printing to deliver an effective orthosis within two weeks of a persons need.
To learn more about Andiamo and their cause, you can check out our other article here.
Like Andiamo’s story, 7-year-old Nik was also diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of three. As a result, he was unable to stand nor walk without help. In his case, it was ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) and physical therapy that helped allowed him to walk independently.
In order help his son, Nik’s father used a Formlabs Form 2 SLA printer to create prototype AFOs. In this way, he was able to vastly improve his son’s mobility for less than $15.
Under the company Animake, Nik’s father aims to help other children in need of custom AFOs, which can prevent, eliminate or ease various disorders.
You can read more about Nik’s story here.
License: The text of "3D Printed Orthotics – The 5 Most Promising Projects of 2018" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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