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Rapid-prototyping and manufacturing of foot orthotics

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by NewsBot, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. NewsBot

    NewsBot The Admin that posts the news.

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    OandP.com have this article:
    Rapid Prototyping/Manufacturing: “Tomorrow Is Just a Day Away”
    Full story
     
  2. dmw

    dmw Welcome New Poster

    Rapid Prototyping (additive material) machines are becoming less and less expensive to buy these days but the cost of material used and the time it takes to manufacture a pair of foot orthoses is (at the moment) uneconomic if you compare it with current offerings. I have tested several machines, including the US$15k U-Print machine but, apart from the material cost and slow build time, the ABS material used is just too brittle to stand up to normal wear and tear. Other machines from various manufacturers offer differing materials, some of which are more durable but, as the material strength and suitability goes up; so does the cost of that material and so does the cost of the machine type that can use such sophisticated engineering plastics. At the current time (mid 2010) there is, in my opinion, no suitable machine/material combination that can deliver on cost/durability/speed requirements. Subtractive machining (CAD/CAM) however is a well tried and tested process that offers substantial improvements in areas such as accuracy, repeatability, consistency, material choice, speed, durability and performance. The cost of such (milling or router machines) is very affordable now and software to drive them is available in many choices. The days of working with plaster of paris models and having someone try and accurately alter that model to prepare a shape for thermoplastic to be offered up to it are starting to thin out. An engineering subtractive machining solution allows us to much better respect the integrity that foot orthosis design and manufacture deserves. In the last year or two there has been a massive shift forward in the development of engineered solutions for foot orthoses and we should expect that this momentum will continue. Our patients also have the right to expect that we are making the most optimal methodology available to them.
     
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