When it comes to support orthoses, orthopaedic technicians are generally restricted to individual constructions, as forms, functions and material thicknesses must be configured to suit each individual patient‘s needs. When complex structures are required, traditional processes are often operating at their limits. Moreover, as orthoses are time-consuming to produce, they are not readily available. To address these issues, Ottobock employs industrial 3D printing. With the aid of production systems and consultancy services from EOS, the company produces custom-made orthoses.
Additive manufacturing allows us to offer tailor-made orthoses that cater to the individual needs of our patients. In addition, the design ensures air permeability and high comfort.
Ottobock moved into the digital production of orthoses with the acquisition of plus medica OT. This small start-up has been developing 3D-printed solutions since 2015. The key priority for Ottobock is to use the potential offered by the technology to improve patient care and to make it available for all orthopaedic technicians in their network. After years of economic and technical optimization of 3D printed ortheses with special attention placed on the aspects of form and function, Ottobock introduced MyNext MAFO. This dynamic ankle-foot orthosis combines innovative characteristics enabled by digital manufacturing with the experience of skilled orthopedic technicians. In order to bring the best possible support to each and every patient, close cooperation with local orthopaedic technicians is very important. Only by coordinating all the processes in construction and additive manufacturing to the requirements of orthopaedic technology it is possible to realize the best possible results.
To this end, the company is cooperating with EOS, the technology leader in the field of 3D printing. Not only does the company supply the necessary systems and materials, but it also supports users during the development and production process. “We have benefited from the highly competent and partner-based consultancy available from EOS, for instance when it came to choosing the most suitable material,” explains Lukas Eckermann. Application specialists with experience in medical engineering helped Ottobock to build up their own know-how and showed them how to fully exploit the possibilities of the technology. And even now, they remain available at any time for assistance on matters of design optimization and functional integration.
The base of every 3D printed MyNext orthosis is a scan of the patient’s foot with a body scanner made by an orthopaedic clinician. Afterwards, they will modify the scan model in a CAD software and send it together with the desired product specifications to Ottobock via the iFab customer center, a digital order platform for custom products. Next, the construction data are transmitted to the production system, an EOS P 396. The part is then built up layer by layer from a fine powder material using a laser beam. This makes it possible to create parts of any shape imaginable, without the need for special tools. The material used is the nylon-based polymer PA 1101 with a high level of stiffness and impact strength, which neither splinters nor breaks under heavy loads. This lowers the risk of injury to the patient.