Australian Researchers Research Feasibility of 3D Printed Ankle/Foot Orthotics for Functionality & Comfort

3D printing has played a large and varied role in medical implants, devices, and more. Australian researchers from the University of Sydney recently published ‘Feasibility of designing, manufacturing and delivering 3D printed ankle-foot orthoses: a systematic review,‘ outlining the challenges in traditionally made ankle-foot orthoses (AFO) and the broad potential for 3D printing in both manufacturing and health service delivery.

In examining the feasibility of customized, 3D printed AFOs, the team evaluated biomedical properties and outcomes, along with comparing fit and comfort levels. Eleven different studies were involved, with the scientists working to develop more lightweight, flexible, easy-to-use AFOs. Such devices are usually prescribed for kids and adults with conditions such as:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
  • Cerebrovascular accident (stroke)
  • Multiple sclerosis

Historically, AFOs have been known to be ill-fitting and uncomfortable, despite their intended use to help patients overall in walking, eliminating trips and falls, and assisting with balance. The scientists state that children, women, and individuals living at home alone tend to be most unhappy with traditional AFOs.

“… many children and adults with musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders don’t wear their prescribed AFOs and instead utilise compensatory strategies during gait despite these being physiologically inefficient and potentially injurious,” stated the researchers. “Therefore, many users only choose to wear their devices when their condition becomes severe even though earlier AFO use might have significant clinical benefits.”

Foot orthotics are usually made from plaster of Paris. Afterward, a thermoplastic vacuum forms over the positive model with polypropylene. There is extensive post-processing in this manual technique, and not only is it labor intensive, but limited in options for the patients, expensive, and it can take a long time for the patients to receive their devices. 3D printing in comparison can be exponentially faster, more affordable, completely patient specific in terms of fit, and offer more options.

“Novel patient-specific 3D printed AFOs are likely to have a dramatic effect on patient satisfaction, adherence to AFO usage and overall health related outcomes,” state the researchers.

An example of an ankle/foot orthosis (Photo credit: EOS)

(Photo credit: EOS)

Thirty-two adults participated, ranging from age 21 to 68.

“Four out of the eleven studies were conducted on patient populations including unilateral foot drop due to dorsiflexor weakness from stroke, cerebral palsy, L5 hernia, carbon monoxide intoxication and mechanical trauma, post-polio syndrome, trauma and cerebral palsy and an embolectomy. Six studies recruited healthy participants and one study did not report or evaluate the AFO in any participants (bench testing only).”

Ten of the studies explored whether or not a dynamic passive AFO (relying on the material properties and physical features to establish functional characteristics such as bending or rotational stiffness) was possible, while other studies integrated 3D printed parts with ‘off the shelf’ materials to produce ‘adustable stiffness.’

“Another study manufactured a segmented AFO consisting of a 3D printed calf section and foot section and a central interchangeable carbon fibre spring,” stated the researchers. “Similarly, another study integrated a commercially available metal hinge also capable of adjusting the stiffness of the AFO into a 3D printed articulated AFO.”

“Other designs also included an AFO with a 3D printed 3 mm calf and foot section connected with two carbon fibre rods and a 3D printed device supporting the ankle and foot and secured with laces. The only study that didn’t produce a dynamic passive AFO used 3D printing to produce a rigid (solid) AFO, however no testing was performed on the manufactured AFO.”

SLS 3D printing was used in the studies, with a wide range of varying materials, from nylon to resins to epoxy photopolymers. Assessments of the patients included how well they were able to walk, how comfortable the AFOs were, accuracy in fabrication, and mechanical properties. They found ‘significant differences’ in range of motion for the ankle, when comparing traditional AFOs and SLS AFOs, as the SLS AFO did exhibit less range of motion.

“Significantly reduced plantarflexion during the early stance phase was observed between stiffness conditions, with the higher stiffness setting allowing the minimal amount of plantarflexion,” stated the researchers. “They suggested that tailoring the stiffness of SLS AFOs may provide support to suit different activities in a way that traditional AFOs are unable to offer.”

In gait analysis, they also compared an FDM polyurethane AFO tightened with shoe laces to a traditionally manufactured rigid polypropylene AFO in one participant:

“They found that both AFOs similarly improved temporal spatial parameters compared to barefoot walking. However, ankle kinematic data showed that the traditional AFO was more effective in supporting ankle dorsiflexion during swing compared to the 3D printed AFO. The authors suggested that this 3D printed AFO needed to be designed in more dorsiflexion to compensate for stretching of the AFO during wear. However, this is likely due to the design of the 3D printed AFO which was developed to be more like a supramalleolar orthosis rather than an AFO as the device only surrounded the ankle and hindfoot and not the lower leg.”

In the end, the team found that overall 3D printed AFOs were as good in quality as their conventionally-made counterparts. Mechanical stiffness and energy dissipation of the 3D printed AFOs were found to be similar, but the researchers noted that sample sizes were small and ‘study quality was generally low.’

 “The use of 3D printing to manufacture AFOs seems to have many potential benefits over traditional methods, including the development of novel designs that optimize stiffness and energy dissipation, improve walking biomechanics, comfort and fit,” concluded the team.

“The feasibility of using 3D printing to manufacture AFOs is dependent on the AFO design and printing method and therefore additional research is needed before 3D printed AFOs can be integrated into clinical practice. Further research is required to evaluate 3D printing AFOs in pediatric populations, and to determine the most appropriate printing technique and optimal materials to improve walking ability, patient satisfaction and long-term usage and durability.”

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

Ankle-foot orthoses (Photo credit: BraceWorks)

Battery Dispenser – 36x AAA – Stackable with separate side plates, easier grip , mount holes #3DPrinting #3DThursday

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Yezariael75 shared this project on Thingiverse!


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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

Car Cigarrette Power Box #3DThursday #3DPrinting

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Shared by discostu on Thingiverse:

I have some car tools that I really like to use in my office table.

I think almost all the car cigarette power connectors will be valid since they are standard dimensions.

Print, share, use and modify it!

Enjoy!

Download the files and learn more


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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

Adafruit Grand Central M4 Express Stand #3DPrinting #3DThursday

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krayola shared this project on Thingiverse!

A simple stand for the Adafruit Grand Central M4 Express to avoid scratching your desk.

See more!


649-1
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

Dash Cam Visor/Windscreen mount #3DPrinting #3DThursday

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jarm00725 shared this project on Thingiverse!

This is a dashcam mount for use on the windscreen with (adhesive 3m double side or alike) or to clip on the visor.

My original mount for this camera broke so I found another way to solve the issue by using and modifying to 2 different mount files in order to make them fit with my dash camera.

See more!


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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!

Valentines Special! Researchers in India Explore 3D Printing Heart Valves

Schematic representation of the proposed process for the generation of 3D heart valves through combining either bioprinting or combination of 3D printing and electrospinning with bioreactor to arrive at functional tissue engineered heart valves (a) slice of CT images, (b)3D CAD model generation, (c) 3D bioprinting through bioink/ 3D printing through PLA, PCL materials, (d) combining PCL-Gel electrospun nanofibrous with 3D printed scaffold, (e) scaffold ready for conventional tissue engineering (f) Development of tissue through combining stem cells, growth factors and developed scaffold, (g) Development and initial tissue remodeling in perfusion bioreactor under dynamic pulsatile flow conditions

The heart is central to keeping you alive, pumping blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout your body—and eliminating waste too. Disease of this central organ is also one of the leading causes of deaths in humans, with coronary heart disease most common. Hundreds of thousands of individuals die each year from heart-related issues, and over 700,000 individuals in the US have heart attacks.

Researchers continue to find better ways to prevent such disease, along with saving patients who are in peril after experiencing cardiac abnormalities. Enter 3D printing, and new research from India, as scientists Rajat Vashistha, Prasoon Kumar, Arun Kumar Dangi, Naveen Sharma, Deepak Chhabra, and Pratyoosh Shukla publish their findings in ‘Quest for cardiovascular interventions: precise modeling and 3D printing of heart valves.’

The authors are encouraged not only by the ‘digitalization of health care practices’ today but also by 3D simulation and computational modeling assisting in surgeries. With these progressive methods in place and becoming more frequently used by medical professionals around the world, the scientists see 3D printing also as having great potential for helping to resolve valvular problems—especially as bioprinting of tissues (and organs, eventually) continues.

The scientists list the following issues as the most common leading to valvular heart diseases (VHDs):

  • Aortic regurgitation
  • Aortic stenosis
  • Primary mitral regurgitation
  • Secondary mitral regurgitation
  • Mitral stenosis
  • Tricuspid regurgitation
  • Tricuspid stenosis along with coronary artery disease,
  • Rheumatic fever
  • Bacterial endocarditis

“These VHDs are associated with significant morbidity and mortality in an aged population, as they are correlated with vascular disorders,” state the researchers. “Considering the reasonable percentage of aged population in Europe, North America, Japan and other countries, VHDs are one of the prominent causes of death in these regions and need immediate attention.”

The team states that prosthetic valve replacement, by means of either mechanical or biological valve, is the ‘only exclusive solution’ possible today. There are still problems with these types of valves, however, due to issues with leaking, the need for excessive care, medication, and continued imaging by specialists. Diagnosis can often be overly invasive too, and the researchers point out that improvements can be made with the use of 3D technology not only in diagnosing but also in simulations used in establishing alternative therapeutics.

Schematic representation of the cardiovascular modeling process for patient specific diseases diagnostics. Processes 1, 2 and 3 show the sequential steps whereas step 4 and 5 shows conditions for real time processing. a. Thick and calcific Mitral valve with decreased opening in case of Chronic Rheumatic Heart Disease, (b). Parasternal Short Axis view of Mitral valve showing thickened anterior and posterior leaflets with reduced valve area, (c). Four Chamber view showing thickened Tricuspid Valve (yellow arrow) suggestive of organic Tricuspid valve disease and thick and calcific Mitral valve (red arrow) in case of Rheumatic Heart Disease, (d). 3D mesh for the volume generated geometry. e. Numerical setup for the problem in CFD software, F. Result post processing.)

Previous efforts at creating artificial heart valves have been rife with challenges, leaving the researchers to state:

“Henceforth advancements in imaging, computational modeling and designing tools need to be integrated with emerging areas of tissue engineering in order to develop human prosthesis similar to native tissues. Tissue engineering holds the potential to reduce patient–prosthesis mismatch in the direction of personalized medicine and accelerate the design and developmental time of prosthetic devices.”

The creation of a heart valve via tissue engineering allows the artificial material to mimic the ‘native valve’ as it is implanted. Also, a 3D printed model gives medical professionals the opportunity to understand tissue biology and more about how a patient’s disease is progressing—and what therapeutic interventions might be effective.

“Before tissue engineering a heart valve, it is imperative to understand the multi-scale architecture, geometry and biomechanics of a heart valve’s parts that play a significant role in remodeling of a neo tissue matrix in the dynamic mechanical environment of a functional heart valve,” state the researchers. “These understandings will enable proper selection of biomaterials, fabrication methodologies, characterization tools and developmental environments for generation of tissue engineered heart valves (TEHVs).”

3D printing via extrusion is not the best choice for creating heart valves, nor is ceramic based 3D printing or SLA; however, bioprinting and inkjet technology may be best suited, along with materials bordering on the 4D realm, inspired by origami. The key in the future will be to refine tissue engineering bioprinting further to ‘eradicate potential defects in prosthetic heart valves,” concluded the researchers.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source / Images: Quest for cardiovascular interventions: precise modeling and 3D printing of heart valves]

Schematic representation of the forces acting on the aortic valve during pulsatile blood flow and remodeling of fibrous matrix by cells of aortic valve under the influence of blood shear for open and closed state along with the factors responsible for the balanced state (a) representation of valve in frontal plane, (b) transverse cross-section view of blood vessel, (c) longitudinal cross-section view of the blood vessel, (d) fibrous matrix remodeling by cells and (e) balancing of factors while developing TEHVs

Dow, Dassault Systèmes, and ECCO Introduce New 3D Printed QUANT-U Shoe Midsoles

Dow, known for their historical innovations in chemicals, is lending their expertise to the ECCO Shoes’ QUANT-U line as they partner in creating a new system of shoe-making. Also collaborating with Dassault Systèmes, this power punch of leading companies presented the latest trend in materials, technology, and footwear in Japan recently at the ECCO Shoes’ Spring-Summer preview.

The QUANT-U customized footwear was introduced to other industry peers and experts, writers, stores, and fashion enthusiasts in the Asia-Pacific realm. ECCO’s independent cross-disciplinary design studio, Innovation Lab (ILE), heads up this new experimental line, offering customer-specific fit and consequent comfort—along with performance. 3D printing is the technology behind the project, and Dow’s liquid silicone rubber is the material making it possible.

Known as SILASTIC 3D 3335 Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR), Dow’s new 3D printing material is used to create shoes formed from the wearer’s ‘individual biomechanical data,’ featuring silicone midsoles that adapt to the customer’s shape and typical movements. This form of LSR was created by Dow specifically for 3D printing. Featuring a low viscosity, the versatile silicone results in smooth fabrication processes, accompanied by the requisite high resolution and accuracy.

The footwear team also expects its future customers to benefit from:

  • Elasticity and recovery
  • Optimized energy return
  • Cushioning
  • Added foot stability

Photo courtesy of QUANT-U

What also sets this new 3D printing venture in fashion/accessories/shoes apart from the others is the timeframe: less than one hour to create, in-store. Overall, the project between all entities culminating in the retail QUANT-U product took two years of development—with a recent press release stating that this brings together 50 years of footwear knowledge on ECCO’s part, and over 70 years in silicone elastomer experience from Dow. While SILASTIC brand silicone rubber was created by Dow over 45 years ago, this type of modern elastomer is helpful in rapid prototyping, the fabrication of complex geometries, and suitable in industrial applications like consumer goods, automotive, electrical, and more.

Photo courtesy of QUANT-U

“The QUANT-U collaboration showcases one of the infinite opportunities SILASTIC™ 3D-printable liquid silicone rubbers are opening up for designers seeking part design flexibility and the processing advantages of additive manufacturing along with the performance advantages of silicone rubber,” said Charlie Zimmer, global marketing director for silicone elastomers with Dow Performance Silicones.

Fashion and clothing designers around the world are enjoying countless new opportunities today thanks to 3D printing, and the same goes for a variety of different footwear—whether in ballet shoes, high heels, running shoes, or other unique products and projects like QUANT-U–which seem poised to change the face of shoe shopping for consumers open to progressive technology.

The QUANT-U shoes will be available for the first time from the general public on the 20th of April.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts! Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Source: QUANT-U]

Photo courtesy of QUANT-U

Prusa releases upgrades for Original Prusa i3 MK3 and SL1

Prusa Research, an award-winning Czech 3D printer and filament maker, has announced the latest updates to its hardware and software. Writing for the official Prusa 3D printers community, Josef Prusa, the founder of Prusa Research, said, “Some time ago we did a big survey about our products and it was immensely helpful. I want to […]

New 3D printer materials from 3D Systems, Liberty, Evonik

Adding to the range of 3D printer materials three companies across the industry have just planning new releases, for SLA, SLS and metal additive. 3D Systems launches FabPro Elastic BLK Leading South Carolina 3D printer OEM 3D Systems has launched a new liquid polymer for its FabPro 1000. Incredibly flexible and strong, FabPro Elastic BLK is […]

BOTW Moonlight Scimitar #3DPrinting #3DThursday


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LBPrint shared this project on Thingiverse!

This is the Moonlight Scimitar from The Legend of Zelda Breath of The Wild!

I modelled it in fusion 360 over around a month and then printed it on my Tronxy i3 style machine (very cheap kit) and it came out great.

I designed it to have hollow channels through it so that it can be fitted with Neopixels and an Arduino Nano and can light up with animations and patterns. You could also print it out normally without using LEDs and it would be fairly simple to do.

See more!

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Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!

Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!