3DPrint2Fiber - Development of a hybrid process for the production of personalized and strucurally optimized 3D-print orhtosis on site
Themes: Leichtbau, 3D & additive manufacturing
Most patients who suffer from a drop foot wear Ankle Foot Orthoses (AFOs) to support the affected leg. The current production process of an AFO starts typically with a plaster cast that is made of the foot of the patient. Based on the cast, an orthosis is manually laminated and cured in an autoclave. The entire process is not only expensive and time consuming, but also allows just a little post-processing and afterwards customization to the patient.
In order to ensure a faster and more efficient patient care, the entire process chain of the production of orthoses has being re-established within the scope of the project. For this purpose, the foot of the patient is recorded by use of a mobile scanner on site. Based on the 3D model of the foot, an individual orthosis is designed on the PC.
Subsequently, the orthosis is produced using a rapid manufacturing process (3D printing). Afterwards, the areas of the orthoses, which are strongly exposed to mechanical stresses, are additionally reinforced on site by thermoplastic fiber tapes. Within this process, the position and the amount of tape, which is applied, is adapted to the disease of the patient and the expected mechanical stresses of the orthosis. To reach an easy placement process, a handheld device has been developed within the project to place the fiber tapes on the intended position. During this process, the thermoplastic matrix of the fiber tapes is fused by a heat source within the device and the fiber tapes are placed on the orthosis. This handheld device enables the orthopedist to place the fiber tapes on the intended position on the orthosis with a little effort by hand.