Additive manufacturing has been touted for its potential to have a major role in disrupting the traditional orthopedic industry for almost a decade. However, even in a sector that grapples with increasing costs for orthopedic specialists and demands for improved comfort, aesthetics, and quality of life, adoption of AM technologies has been slow. Much of it has to do with costs and quality of materials as well as the productivity rate of the machines. This is now changing as material giant BASF’s Forward AM is partnering with Belgian MedTech company Spentys to make these supports truly available, accessible, and viable.
Spentys found a trusted and reliable partner in Forward AM, whose broad portfolio offers advanced AM materials for all classes of orthoses. The partners’ new solution enables orthopedic professionals to offer fully customized immobilization devices to patients while increasing the efficiency of their production process, by leveraging the benefits of Additive Manufacturing. The 3D printed orthoses are tailored to each patient, much lighter and more breathable than traditional devices. Thanks to their flexibility, they are easy to remove and replace to monitor the healing process and make adjustments if required, without having to start over with a new device, thus saving valuable time, costly material, and unnecessary waste.
Traditional immobilization devices like plaster casts are very uncomfortable. Producing, adapting, and fitting traditional immobilization devices is an exhausting, time-consuming, and highly wasteful process. Healthcare providers are aware of the situation but they have generally been very slow in opening up to AM processes. While in some cases the AM solutions were just not feasible, in many other cases they were just not known to exist or were simply too hard to integrate into their existing workflows.
This may change now as Spentys is using high-performance materials by Forward AM to offer a solution that is already delivering real-world results and taking immobilization devices to the next level.
Focusing on two main points of care, Emergency Rooms and orthopedic technicians, Spentys is enabling healthcare providers to act faster and provide their patients with a much more comfortable, customized solution. For orthopedic surgeons, it predominantly speeds that counts – Emergency Room staff need to treat their patients immediately. By 3D printing customized orthoses, they are now able to provide far more comfortable medical devices much faster and more efficiently.
The Spentys platform enables orthopedic technicians, who mainly care for patients with chronic disorders, to integrate 3D scanning, 3D modeling as well as 3D printing into their workflows. Their patients require more durable devices than people with broken arms or legs in the Emergency Department – these orthopedic specialists need orthoses made of a different material that fulfils the specific requirements of their chronic sufferers.
We were able to implement the 3D technology swiftly in our existing production processes and instruments. It has already proven to be of enormous added value for our patients and our internal proceduresLuc Coenen, Director at Orthopedie Van Haesendonck.
What’s more, each kind of orthosis calls for a different material: some have to perform in a very flexible way and others need to provide more support, requiring a stiffer material. Offering one of the largest portfolios in the AM industry, Forward AM was the first-choice partner for Spentys. From Forward AM’s comprehensive range of materials comprising polymer powders, photopolymers and advanced filaments, the partners identified an outstanding set of materials for 3D printing new-generation orthoses for the full spectrum of applications.
Ultrafuse PET is a perfect fit for prosthetic covers, while the filament Ultrafuse PET CF 15 is ideal for protective helmets and masks, leveraging its carbon reinforcement. The flexible filament Ultrafuse TPU 64D makes small orthotic devices possible and Ultrafuse PP is the go-to choice for lower-extremity orthoses, providing great stress and fracture resistance combined with excellent formability and durability.
In addition, the photopolymer Ultracur3D ST45 uses DLP technology for quicker printing, to meet Emergency Department requirements. 3D printed devices such as facemasks can also post-surgery patients to get on with their lives without restrictions. Right after a nose fracture, pro field hockey player Fay Keijer playing for KMTHC in the Belgian Premier League wore a facemask printed with Ultrafuse PET CF 15 that allowed her to get back on the field during her recovery.