Composites Today

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3D printed composites orthoses provide reliability, performance, and longevity

manufactured by CRP Technology for MHOX on display at the SuperPower Design exhibition

March 14, 2024

3D printed orthoses manufactured by CRP Technology (Italy) in glass fiber reinforced thermoplastic, Windform GT (Glass filled thermoplastic manufactured by Windform) material are displayed at the SuperPower Design exhibition, which runs from March 24th to August 25th, 2024 at the Centre for Innovation and Design (CID) at Grand-Hornu, in Belgium.

An orthosis is a medical device applied externally to the human body, used to assist, restrict, control, or limit movement for specific body segments.

The orthoses that are showcased in Belgium include one leg orthosis for drop foot and one hand orthosis; they were created and manufactured using an innovative approach and procedure. CRP Technology and MHOX (A generative design studio that develops body extensions, objects or systems), in collaboration with medical professionals, developed an integrated framework of mass customization for generative orthoses. The system is based on three phases: bodyscan of the patient; generation of a 3D model of the orthosis; 3D printing of the orthosis. It aims at replacing the traditional sizes system with a complete customization of the product.

MHOX handled the first two stages by developing and using proprietary software, which was designed for the automated management of systems for mass product customization.

As the design of these specific orthoses could only be achieved with the correct use of professional 3D printing systems (in this case, Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers) and with an innovative high-end material, the third stage was assigned to CRP Technology that 3D printed the orthoses with their Windform GT material by means of Selective Laser Sintering. Windform GT is a polyamide-based material reinforced with glass fiber, whose special features make it particularly suitable for applications where the material has to be able to flex for extended periods without the risk of damage. In fact, the key characteristics of Windform GT include elasticity, flexibility, impact resistance, impermeability, and durability. These resulted in line with the manufacturing of generative orthoses, where reliability, performance, and longevity are crucial considerations. 3D printed orthoses in Windform GT represent a compelling example of how design and technology can intersect to create innovative solutions that push the boundaries of human potential, making them a fitting addition to the SuperPower Design exhibition.