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3D Printed Orthotics

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by kegans, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. kegans

    kegans Welcome New Poster

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    Hi all,

    We are developing a new kind of orthotic - Sols. We're looking for feedback, beta testers, and early adopters.

    Sols are a unibody construction which leverage 3D printed lattice structures to create variable material properties, and transition from flexible to rigid, and cushioned to hard.

    Sols will be available for heels and flats, be 100% customizable, and have a turnaround time of 3 days.

    Now here's where you come in! Beyond the aforementioned - what do you want to see in an orthotic, and where are your pain points?

    From the physical product to the process surrounding I'm all ears.
  2. Hi Kegan, welcome to Podiatry Arena. I have been interested in 3d printing for a number of years now. I have lectured on this topic internationally and have been interviewed regarding 3D printed foot orthoses for journal articles.

    Too me, the only advantage of 3D printing for foot orthoses comes from if you are employing design features within the foot orthoses which cannot be reproduced by milling or traditional manufacturing techniques. Perhaps it would be helpful if you could attach some pictures of your 3D printed orthoses here?

    P.S. in the nicest possible way, I'd avoid statements like "naturallly kinetic" and "designed to transfer energy", since many of the people who contribute here have a sophisticated understanding of mechanics and will see such statements as marketing "flim-flam".
  3. kegans

    kegans Welcome New Poster

    Hey Simon,

    Thanks! I mostly agree, though I see two real advantages:

    1. Being the ability to offer a custom product at a much lower cost through reduced labor, higher throughput, batch processing etc.
    2. Being able to create a unibody product which leverages unique structures to vary material properties (not possible w/ CNC milling).

    Appreciate the feedback on language - didn't mean to offend.

    My expertise is in 3D printing for custom mass-manufacturing but we are actively working w/ and talking to as many podiatrists / orthotists and biomech experts as will listen. Obv. that's what happens when I translate their language through my eyes!
  4. I do not agree with either of your points above: 3D printing is generally slower than milling, with similar labour intensity.

    Milling is able to create a "unibody product which leverages unique structures to vary material properties" too and there you go with that marketing speak again. Lets be honest, I can vac form a "unibody product which leverages unique structures to vary material properties".

    What system are you using? SLS?

    Which FEA software are you using to drive your designs?

    As I said, there are certain design features which can only be achieved via 3D printing, I should be interested to see some photographs of your designs to see if you have realised any of these yet.
  5. JoelWish

    JoelWish Welcome New Poster

    Hey Simon -

    I'm Kegan's business partner and wanted to follow up here for you and other interested people. Attached is a 3D model that clearly shows the lattice structures Kegan referred to in her original post. Ultimately you are correct that the process MUST utilize structures that are not possible with milling techniques, and I'm sure you can see from the image that this is the case with our product.


    Attached Files:

  6. And you couldn't mill holes into an orthosis? Moreover, how do you know the holes are in the right place? Milling or printing holes only changes the load/ deformation characteristics of the orthosis: areas without holes will be stiffer than the areas with holes, so how do you adjust the hole pattern for differing pathologies in different individuals? In other words, how do you drive the design based on patient data? If we are manipulating load/ deformation characteristics, how else could we "skin this cat" to obtain the same results? Milling variable thickness shells? Yep, that'll do it- I know of a number of commercial labs that have been doing this for the best part of ten years. Nothing new here BTW, since I presented similar ideas with the holes to a UK based company employing 3D printing over a year ago, but keep going.

    Remember, all that a foot orthosis can ever do in terms of influencing direct kinetic effects at the foot-orthosis interface is to change three factors at the foot-orthosis interface: surface topography; load/ deformation characteristics; frictional properties. End of story. Show me a design which could not create a change in any of these three characteristics which could not be achieved by any method other than 3D printing, which presently is more costly and slower than milling, then I'll be impressed.

    I'm due to give a lecture at a large international conference in the summer of 2014 entitled "Don't believe the hype", amongst other things I'll be discussing 3D printing. it'll be good if you can show me something special prior to next summer. The point the labs seem to be missing is this: it's not the labs that need the 3D printers; it's the clinicians- there you go, there's your business model, Mr Business Partner. In the not too distant future, labs won't manufacture foot orthoses; they'll do the hard bit- designing them. The clinicians will manufacture the designs in their offices. So go, make designs and sell the home office printers. In my world, there will be a library of off the shelf designs which the practitioner pays a click fee to download and print: go get monetarily rich. Alternatively, create a library of designs for free, make them open-access and put them on the web to get spiritually much, much richer. That really should be progress. I doubt that will come from within any capitalist economy though. This will happen someday though- someone could do it tomorrow, all they need to do is scan in a load of foot orthoses, "reverse engineer" them to avoid copyright infringement, stick them on a website as .STL files and Bob's your Grandma's, Aunties, Uncles tortoise. I proposed something similar some time ago called F.O.D.D.E.R- foot orthoses design depository and educational resource. Go make it happen computer geeks.
  7. JoelWish

    JoelWish Welcome New Poster

    Simon -

    The holes in the unit are in our treatment zones which are hollow, that type of structure cannot be milled or injection molded. We adjust for differing pathologies through computer modeling - it's a continuously optimized algorithm.

    If you are ever in NYC, please reach out and come by our offices. Would love to show you what we're working on more closely. Our backgrounds are in computer modeling and 3D printing. We're leveraging these machines and technology in a new way - I think you'd find it pretty fascinating what we're able to do :)

  8. Joel, all you are doing is manipulating the load/deformation characteristics of the shell, this can be achieved without 3D printing which is slower and more costly than milling. Wow: "treatment zones"- so the rest of the device is not modifying reaction forces at the foot-orthosis interface? "Treatment zones" and "continuously optimized algorithm". Those phrases don't sound like marketing bull**** at all. Is this all "leveraged in a uni-body construction" by any chance? I guess you will fool some of the people... Come back when you understand how foot orthoses work. If you are using FEA modelling, how do you obtain input data, and modify that input data based upon design alteration? One of the other subjects I'll be discussing within my lecture "Don't believe the hype" in summer 2014 is FEA modelling and FEA driven design. I was among the first to describe this concept for foot orthoses design within an invited lecture I gave at a PFOLA meeting in 2007, I should be interested to hear as to how you have overcome the fundamental problems with this approach, Joel. Moreover, it should be great if you could tell me, as a clinician, exactly what data you require from me to provide you with the required input data for a specific patient to enable you to feed your "continuously optimized algorythm"?

    For the record, there is no-one who wants to see the evolution of foot orthoses employing 3D printing technology greater than I, I just don't think that jumping on the already over-subscribed band-wagon and using meaningless marketing terms is going to be the way forward if it's money that makes your world go around. However, i shall be using these great quotes from you and your business partner within my lecture to exemplify the "hype".

    Let me ask you a simple question Joel, how many patients have you or your partner personally assessed, diagnosed and prescribed foot orthoses to? None- right?
  9. JoelD

    JoelD Member

    Congrats on the introduction of your new product. I hope you find success.
  10. javier

    javier Senior Member

    Where? When? How many time and topics related to 3D printing will be discussed?


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