3D Systems > Case Studies > Digital Transformation in Orthotic and Prosthetic Design and Manufacturing

Digital Transformation in Orthotic and Prosthetic Design and Manufacturing

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 Digital Transformation in Orthotic and Prosthetic Design and Manufacturing - IoT ONE Case Study
Technology Category
  • Functional Applications - Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES)
  • Sensors - Haptic Sensors
Applicable Industries
  • Education
  • Equipment & Machinery
Applicable Functions
  • Product Research & Development
  • Quality Assurance
Use Cases
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Virtual Prototyping & Product Testing
  • Testing & Certification
  • Training
The Customer
About The Customer
Häussler is a well-known medical supply store in southern Germany. It was founded in 1916 by Thomas Oesterle as a specialized workshop for the main military hospital of the Ulm fortress. From the beginning, Oesterle valued collaboration with the medical sciences and worked in the hospital workshop. In 1984, Häussler opened a clinical workshop at the University and Rehabilitation Clinics of Ulm (RKU) to strengthen the connection between medical sciences and research. Häussler orthotists and prosthetists work closely with the Ulm University of Applied Sciences where medical engineering and biomechatronics expert Professor Dr. Felix Capanni works and conducts research. Steffen Matyssek, a former research assistant for Prof. Dr. Capanni, manages the Häussler research and development department.
The Challenge
The orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) industry has been largely dominated by manual craftsmanship. The challenge was to introduce digital technologies to orthotic and prosthetic design and manufacturing to support manual processes with digital workflows and tools. The two main challenges for orthotists and prosthetists were the production of the correct function and the suitability to the patient’s size and strength ratio, and developing an interface to the human body that can transfer and absorb force without causing chafing or similar irritations. The traditional workflow to produce a prosthetic begins with molding the body part with plaster, which maintains a few advantages over direct 3D scanning of the patient's limb. However, due to the high degree of manual work and experience orthotists and prosthetists bring to their work, it is nearly impossible to exactly replicate a good outcome.
The Solution
The Häussler medical supply store collaborated with the Biomechanics Research Group at the Ulm University of Applied Sciences in Ulm, Germany, and 3D expert and reseller Antonius Koester to define new digital processes. Their tools of choice are Geomagic Freeform organic 3D design software and Touch haptic devices by 3D Systems. The Dynabot automation tools in Geomagic Freeform help them simplify and accelerate the modeling process, allowing them to precisely reproduce well-fitting orthotics and prosthetics. The preferred tool for this design is Geomagic Freeform with the Touch haptic device. The Dynabot macro functionality in Geomagic Freeform allows them to automate recurring tasks and provides the user with the right tool for each step of the process. Such defined workflows automatically lead to standardization.
Operational Impact
  • The integration of digital technologies into the O&P workflow has been a team effort. The use of Geomagic Freeform with the Touch haptic device has provided the same options and tools that are available in the plaster room. The Dynabot functionality in Geomagic Freeform has allowed for the automation of recurring tasks and has provided the user with the right tool for each step of the process. This has led to standardization and has made the process faster. The use of digital technologies has not replaced the techniques used today, but has complemented them and made the work more efficient. Standardization has also helped to keep the quality of the products consistently high. 3D printing has provided new opportunities for customization.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Accelerated modeling subtasks with automation.
  • Achieved reproducible results and strengthened standardization with digitization and defined workflows.
  • Improved quality and speed of orthotic and prosthetic design and manufacturing to meet patients’ individual needs.

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