May 1, 2017 | By Benedict

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is collaborating with Peacocks Medical Group, a leading medical equipment supplier and creator of Podfo orthotics, for the large-scale production of 3D printed orthotics that can reduce pain and improve mobility.

It’s hard to put a price on comfort—especially of the feet, where years of walking, running, and other activities can sometimes result in serious pain and mobility problems.

But according to a 2016 report from IndustryARC, you might put the value of foot comfort at somewhere around $3.5 billion, which is what the market research firm expect the orthotic insoles market to be worth by 2020.

With such astronomical figures involved with foot orthotics, it’s no surprise that foot specialists are willing to embrace new technology—3D printing included—to make their products as effective as possible.

The latest case of orthotics going additive comes from the UK, where medical equipment supplier Peacocks Medical Group, the company behind Podfo orthotics, is working with 3D printing giant Stratasys to produce 3D printed orthotics on a mass scale.

“Backed by an unmatched global footprint and ecosystem, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing gives us a virtually unlimited global manufacturing platform fueled by 3D printing,” commented Steve Cook, Business Development Director at Podfo. “That’s a huge competitive advantage for us.”

According to the two companies, Peacocks is now using laser sintering 3D printing technology from Stratasys to produce a new line of Podfo orthotics that are “comfortable, tough, lightweight, and thin,” and which are tailored to an individual customer’s footwear and prescription.

By using 3D printing instead of traditional manufacturing techniques, Peacocks has been able to cut out top covers, glued-on pads or foams, and other undesirable component parts that can make orthotics less comfortable and durable.

This is because 3D printing enables the creation of different geometries and patterns within a single printed object.

But it’s not just the precisely engineered design that has benefitted the new Podfo range: Stratasys says its Nylon 11 3D printing material has enabled Peacocks to keep its 3D printed orthotics thin, lightweight, and highly durable, with wearers of the footwear aid guaranteed years of use.

“In a field like medicine where customization is key, our work with Podfo perfectly exemplifies how 3D printing produces highly specific solutions to improve a patient’s quality of life,” said Scott Rader, General Manager of Medical Solutions at Stratasys. “We’re putting the power of 3D printing to work with Podfo, delivering medical solutions that significantly improve clinical outcomes of the most complex foot ailments.”

Interestingly, this isn’t Stratasys’ first foray into the world of orthotics. Last year, the additive manufacturing company worked with Michigan University and Altair Engineering to create CYBER, an ankle orthotics project that received funding from innovation institute America Makes.

Podfo orthotics are available from podiatrists and other healthcare professionals.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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