Sep 9, 2015 | By Alec

Chinese scientists, hospitals and surgeons have been happily adopting 3D printed medical applications in large numbers over the last few years, and readers might have noticed that Chinese doctors have been particularly keen to use 3D printed surgical models to increase the chance of surgical success. We are now, however, reminded that actual medical applications can also be relatively easily 3D printed, as a team of researchers from the Xiao Feng Spinal Deformity studio have created a remarkable brace. With the help of a collaboration with orthopedic surgeon Dr. Hans-Rudolf Weiss (from Gensingen, Germany), the Chinese team of researchers developed their country’s first customized back brace specifically for the treatment of Scoliosis.

For those of you lucky enough to avoid this disease in your surroundings all your life, Scoliosis is a lateral or side-to-side curvature of the spine. It especially affects children and young adults during periods of quick growth. Appearing during the prepubescent ages of 8-13, it affects as much as million Americans, 90% of which are female.

Fortunately, some sort of treatment is possible. One of the most common treatment method is spinal bracing, which is effective in children and young adults who are still growing. Traditional braces of this kind consists of a rigid, restrictive torso shell that extends from armpit to hip, capable of exerting a strong, corrective counter-pressure against the ribs and hips. Children are required to wear such brace nearly full time for up to three years (sometimes even longer) until they reach skeletal maturity. The typical problem, however, is that young patients remove the brace so frequently, the treatment is ineffective and they require invasive surgery.

Last June, 3D Systems already announced that it has successfully completed a pilot program for its new Bespoke Braces, a first of its kind, personalized, 3D printed brace for children and young adults with scoliosis. That initiative is now followed by this Chinese development, which also uses 3D printing to treat Scoliosis.

This new solution is partly the achievement of Nan Xiao Feng, researcher at the National Rehabilitation Aids Research Center in Beijing and founder of the Xiao Feng Spinal Deformity Studio. ‘Since 1998, when I graduated from the school of prosthetics and Orthotics in China, I been engaged in the assembly work of orthosis (braces),’ he says. ‘Throughout that time, I have found that it doesn't matter how effective an scoliosis orthopaedic brace is, if the children don't want to wear it, it won’t reach the necessary results.’

So why are they so reluctant to treat their own debilitating condition? ‘There are two main reasons,’ the researcher explains. ‘One, the bracing is too big to cover, so their classmates or others easily find out. This exposes children to additional psychological pressure. Two, because of the brace must be worn 22 hours a day, and plastic brace is airtight, it is very hot to wear in the summer.’

Fortunately, 3D printing has now been used to overcome this problem. By working together with Dr Hans-Rudolf Weiss from Germany, the Chinese researchers have developed a set of customizable 3D printed braces. Last October, the researchers imported a small, German-made brace which is more comfortable to wear. When compared to the old style brace, this new one is much easier to conceal.

The child in the photo above is just 14 years old, and was diagnosed with scoliosis a year ago, specifically with thoracic scoliosis at 40 degrees, and lumbar scoliosis of 17 degrees. During the brace customization process, scans, measurements and lots of data and photographs were taken from the child and sent to the German doctor. After analysis, Dr. Weiss developed a custom 3D model which was sent back to China for manufacturing. Especially the 3D scans enabled careful control of the internal spaces of the brace. Using a CNC machine, they made an initial version of a brace for testing. After wearing it for a while, the boy’s thoracic scoliosis was corrected from 40 degrees to 4 degrees, or correct rate of 90%. The brace is also small and concealable, so kids are far more likely to wear it daily.  

However, this was just the first step. The second disadvantage of traditional braces is, as you remember, the material itself. And this is where 3D printing comes in, as its 3D printed plastic is far more breathable.  3D printed manufacturing also enables the creation of intricate air flow patterns embedded in the brace, for optimal comfort. Not only does it reduce heat, it also looks far cooler. Now, the next step is to expand this fantastic development, to enable more children to wear and benefit from this 3D printable brace.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



Maybe you also like:


YOHANA GUTIERREZ wrote at 6/28/2017 5:03:10 AM:

por favor diganme como me comunico con estos expertos a mi hija la operan dentro de un mes en julio 2017 por favor no la quiero operar temo mucho por ella es especial tiene paralisis cerebral infantil y microcefalia vivimos en cali -colombia..

yohana gutierrez wrote at 6/28/2017 5:00:21 AM:

por favor diganme como me comunico con estos expertos a mi hija la operan dentro de un mes en julio 2017 por favor no la quiero operar temo mucho por ella es especial tiene paralisis cerebral infantil y microcefalia vivimos en cali -colombia..

YOHANA GUTIERREZ wrote at 6/28/2017 4:38:59 AM:


priyanjan wrote at 6/11/2017 7:51:19 PM:

Hi Please send me the prices for these Braces and how to buy them.

Leyre wrote at 10/8/2016 12:40:29 AM:

Where can I buy a Bespoke brace from 3DSystems?

B Wiggins wrote at 6/12/2016 10:55:46 PM:

Where can we get a brace made like this in UK, please ?

Shyla wrote at 3/28/2016 5:35:06 PM:

i am wondering how can i get a brace like that for my niece..

chris wrote at 3/1/2016 6:44:07 PM:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive