Mar 23, 2016 | By Alec

3D printing has repeatedly proven itself as an excellent technology for the production of customized (bionic) arm prostheses, and can ensure a perfect fit for each and every patient. Unfortunately, leg prostheses are a bit more challenging, as they not only have to be able to carry the weight of the patient in question, but also need to facilitate movement. It’s therefore very good to hear that Dutch orthopedics developer Orthin are exploring the full integration of 3D printing into their services, and have already developed a custom-made leg prosthesis from medical-grade plastic in collaboration with medical 3D printer Oceanz.

Orthin, a subsidiary of AchilleonZorg, is a Dutch orthopedic developer based in Drachten, who have over thirty years of experience making custom orthopedics. They also specialize in the production of shoes for people with walking difficulties. While their conventional prosthetic production process is a time-consuming endeavor, they have now teamed up with Oceanz to produce their first 3D printed leg prosthesis. As you can see in the clip below, it has already enabled one young girl to walk unassisted.

Oceanz, as you might remember, is an Ede-based 3D printing service that provides numerous high quality solutions, with a focus on medical applications. Earlier this month, they revealed that they were awarded ISO 13485 certificate from the EU, which denotes their ability to 3D print medical grade plastics in an environment that meets all internationally-accepted production demands. This prosthetic also meets all ISO 13485 demands, and has been 3D printed in biocompatible PA2200 nylon.

As Helma Bakker, the owner of AchilleonZorg, revealed, this latest innovation gives a glimpse of the future of prosthetics. “Insurance agencies are becoming far more critical when it comes to orthopedics, and it is up to us to set us apart from the rest and continue to innovate,” Bakker said. In response to those demands, Orthin adopted 3D scanners a few years ago, which have completely digitized their production process.

But now they are thus looking to integrate 3D printing into that production process as well, and they have already adopted a few basic 3D printers to become familiar with the technology’s potential. “In the future, digital modeling and 3D printed components will become much more common,” Bakker predicted. This will also mean that time-consuming processes, such as molding and modeling by hand in a workshop, will become unnecessary – further streamlining the entire process.

But according to the company, 3D printing offers a lot more to both the patients and the manufacturers. Most importantly, it reduces waste significantly, while patients will no longer be required to wear cast molds. What’s more, the 3D scanner is portable, reducing the need for patients travelling long distances. 3D printed prosthetics are also a lot more comfortable and lighter, while even colors and decorations can be customized. Reproductions, of course, are also much easier to make. Finally, it’s more efficient, quicker, and much cheaper – something insurance companies will also appreciate.

According the Oceanz, who took care of the 3D printing portion of the project, this prosthetic can be seen as part of a growing demand for directly applicable 3D printed medical tools. “3D printing definitely has a future within the medical world. Oceanz is already providing various models for medical specialists, including surgeons, dentists, researchers and medical tool manufacturers. It is enabling more efficient healthcare, which directly helps the patients themselves,” says medical sales engineer Robert Groeneveld. “Within the next five years, 3D printing will revolutionize the medical world.”



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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