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Patent granted - 3D printed orthoses using multi-material/multi-density

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by jit0855, Mar 5, 2015.

  1. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

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    Kent Community Health Foundation Trust have been granted a patent for 3D printed orthoses utilising a multi-material and multi-density process.

    I have attached a copy of the patent for your convenience.

    Kind regards


    Attached Files:

  2. Ian Drakard

    Ian Drakard Active Member


    Good to see people working on this area. For the sake of clarity would you be able to succintly spell out what the patent was granted for and what was hoped to be achieved by seeking it?

    Thanks in advance
  3. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear Ian
    The objective of this project was to be able to produce an orthotic device that would incorporate different materials, in a combination of different densities to produce a single orthotic unit that would require no additional handling or finishing in the lab, post printing.
    From our perspective the main benefits are:
    • Greater scope of orthotic provision for our patients
    • Quicker turnaround of insoles, thereby improving the patient experience
    • Greater accuracy and quality
    • Potentially increased longevity

    I can't really do the work that we have conducted justice in the paragraph above, but am happy to elaborate on any specific questions you may have.

    Kind regards

  4. Ian Drakard

    Ian Drakard Active Member

    Hi Jit

    Those are answers to the question 'what are the advantages of using 3d printing'. My question was 'what the patent was granted for and what was hoped to be achieved by seeking it?'

    I'm really interested to hear about the work you've been doing, I'm just a little unclear how the patent fits in.
  5. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    Hi Ian,

    I scanned the patent and came up with the following sentence which seems to state the necessary "inventive step"?

    "The present inventors have taken the inventive step of looking outside the technologies known to the skilled technician and orthotic designer and have realised that 3D printing can be used to form an orthosis."

    The date of filing and of publication are as follows.

    Date of filing 23/11/12
    Date of publication 28/5/12

  6. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear Ian
    Patent was granted for a method of manufacturing an orthotic device that uses 3D printing to selectively create areas of different shore hardnesses within the orthoses.
    As you can hopefully appreciate, we have put in a lot of time and effort into the project and the patent is there to protect our IP and use it as a means of income generation for the NHS.

    I hope that answers your questions and I am more than happy to discuss this with you in more detail.

    Kind regards

  7. Phil Wells

    Phil Wells Active Member

    Hi Jit

    I must agree with Ian that although you have given a list of advantages of the technology for the patient, you could have easily achieved this without patenting it!
    Are you hoping to exclude or control the use of this approach for financial gain?

    Normally I wouldn't ask this question but when a government funded body (NHS) that has received considerable help from charitable donations (machinery purchase etc) starts to act commercially then I start to ask why!


  8. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear Phil

    The NHS is changing and as a dept we have chosen to innovate in order to survive, rather than cutback the level of service we provide to our patients.

    We are having to think and act commercially and i make no apology for that because our focus is on being able to provide for the patients we serve.

    As per my reply to Ian, our intention would to generate income from this and not to exclude anyone from using it as you have questioned above.

    Kind regards

  9. Ian Drakard

    Ian Drakard Active Member

    Hi Jit

    In what way does the patent allow income generation without some degree of exclusion or control? That's the point of a patent isn't it?

    How would you propose to enforce the patent in any case given that almost every aspect of it is being used in practice in some way already or is an attribute of the printer technology regardless of purpose?

    This is not to knock either the technology or your decision to use it to try and improve service level to patients.
  10. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear Ian

    I am unable to answer to question regarding enforcement as it is outside of my scope of practice.

    For us this was a technical exercise to improve the way we manufacture orthoses, thereby improving the patient experience and hopefully creating some value for the NHS in the process.

    Time will tell if we are able to achieve this.

    Kind regards

  11. Agreed.
  12. Phil Wells

    Phil Wells Active Member

    Hi Jit

    I am sure that the patent is not enforceable as I know of this approach being used prior to the patent being applied for - but if the NHS wants to use its bottom less pit of money on it then hey ho!
    However I am sure that you will do a good job in ensuring it benefits a least a small part of the NHS - well done.


  13. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    l dont think you can claim quicker turnaround times? From my understanding of both 3D printing and milling, 3D printing will not give a quicker turnaround time, at this point in time most 3D printers are struggling with long term continuous commercial use.

    How long are you taking to print a pair of orthoses with your multi density printing system? It is 8 hours to print a shoe last in a single density material currently, thats 16 hours for the pair.
  14. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear David,

    Our current manufacturing process consists of multiple stages and due to the number of insoles we process there are inherent delays between each step. If you look at just the actual processing time ignoring the delay between stages you are correct to state that current milling is quicker. But in real terms we have found that processing via 3D printing results in quicker turnaround times as it is a single process.

    Kind regards

  15. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    In the real world we cant ignore any delays, they effect both the cost and delivery time, especially when it is one of your claims.

    In real terms can you tell us how long the entire process takes, including change overs, to produce a 3d pair of orthoses?
  16. wdd

    wdd Well-Known Member

    As I was reading the "inventive step" in the patent I had a feeling that back in 2011 I had started a thread entitled varithotics in which I mentioned that the varithotic could be manufactured by "additive manufacture" and I am sure that if I had thought of the idea by that date that there are others who had thought of it even earlier?

    Additive Manufacturing refers to a process by which digital 3D design data is used to build up a component in layers by depositing material. The term "3D printing" is increasingly used as a synonym for Additive Manuafcturing.

    Of course if no one had thought of it before I came up with the idea then I would like to be recognised preferably with a little shiny medal, a certificate, an honourary title and if possible a pension for life.

    No I can't ask for all that I'm too modest. Just the pension for life will be enough.

  17. jit0855

    jit0855 Member

    Dear David,

    We are currently looking at around 6 hours but we are confident with the ongoing development that we will be able to improve this further.

    Kind regards

  18. Boots n all

    Boots n all Well-Known Member

    Thank you, so for the moment at least, you can not claim a quicker turnaround time.
    At 6 hours for 3D printing, the "..conventional art..." is faster than 6 hours.
  19. LuckyLisfranc

    LuckyLisfranc Well-Known Member

    Hmmm...my "3D" Orthema milling system can mill a pair of multiple density/shore devices in less than 30mins, including scans and software corrections.

    But is guess "subtractive" milling must not be as cool as "additive" manufacture.

    Think I will be sticking with this approach for many years to come as I think I would go broke if i had to wait 6 hours for a pair of orthotics to mill.

  20. DrBob

    DrBob Active Member

    I am no expert on patents but I think that they are not always to be looked on as something that simply excludes others? They make a clear statement of the inventor's contribution to the area, and confirm a right for them to maintain ongoing work, particularly of a commercial nature, in that field (ie, it prevents a competitor from stopping you from using the method you describe).

    As regards who thought of it first, I suspect someone in ancient history hit on the basic principle (additive manufacturing is just another way of skinning the cat).

    Well done to those involved.
  21. Don ESWT

    Don ESWT Active Member

    It is a pity the bloke that invented orthotics some 2,000 year ago didn't put a patent out
    I think the first patent may have been taken out around 1860's for Leather Orthotics
    Dr Scholls around 1905 Metal Orthotics

    My dad produced perspex orthotic in the 50's No Patent

    For an object that is adaptable any modification who surely negate a patent.

    I now have the ability to make 3D orthotics out of PLA in whatever colour. Very shortly they will be produced using Liquid Carbon
    It take about 6 hours to produce these orthotics. This is a press start and walk away system.

    We also make milled orthotics out of memory foam and 100mm blocks of poron.
    We also have the ability to nest about 4 pairs of functional orthotics, milling time 12 minutes a pair

    To get these results we use a radial arm scanner to capture to leg and foot.

    The files are saved as ply.file (Polygon File Format) They can be converted to STL.file (STereoLithography) is a file format native to the stereolithography CAD software created by 3D Systems. STL is also known as Standard Tessellation Language. Breaking it down further, it is what is used when make all those fancy quilts lots of trangles.

    Once the files are uploaded into the various programs - Last, Pattern Making, Orthotic, and AFO's

    Our system is used for making Medical Grade Footwear, Orthotics and AFO's

    Our Lab is situated in China with a future Lab in the Grafton,NSW region

    Don Scott
    Grafton, NSW
  22. footdoctor

    footdoctor Active Member

    Progress for progress sake surely??

    I can machine a multi density device in 20mins. What's the true benefit other than lack of material waste?

    6hrs production time? Surely that means that using this technology rather than traditional means, less patients are seen surely?

    Unless of course you have a bank of machines running. Either way it's not progress, just another way of skinning the proverbial cat
  23. Ian Drakard

    Ian Drakard Active Member

    I'd kind of agree- and disagree! I know you've looked into it and I think sometimes it will just be another way of skinning the proverbial, but in some situations it may have advantages.

    It's never going to compete time wise with milling, and volume wise is going to be difficult on a commercial lab basis. Equally most clinics don't want a cnc mill in the corner but a 3d printer might work fine and you'd still have them made for the next day.

    Design wise- if it's a design possible with subtractve manufacture in one material just mill it! But there are potentially things a 3d printer can do that are impossible with milling. Whether people design orthoses to take advantage if this is another matter!
  24. BarryD

    BarryD Member

    I went to a 3d printing seminar at Nissan Motorsport in Melbourne last year hoping to see the next generation of fast additive technology- It just isn't available. The practicality of manufacturing 3d printed orthoses for anything other than being 'trendy' is not there.
    Bigger expensive machines can't print much faster - you would need dozens of $100k+ printers to do the same work I can do with a CNC mill.
    I guess it will be the usual story in the future -entrepreneurial Pods wanting to make a few extra bucks getting conned by some snake oil salesman promising huge returns if they make 'x' amount per day. Selling them inferior products which they then pass on to unknowing patients. They will spend half their time at conferences with glossy brochures spruiking the virtues of their 'special' machines because they have invested so much in them they have to believe their own hype!
    Wow! -where did that come from??? Just saved me a visit to a psych :)

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