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CASE STUDY: using HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology to produce personalized orthoses

OT4 Orthopädietechnik GmbH develops, designs and manufactures individualized orthoses for patients using 3D printing technology. As a partner of orthopedic companies, clinics and doctors, the German company based in Munich offers innovative and modern production processes that combine individuality and unparalleled quality. OT4’s mission is to develop completely new solutions for existing diseases and to implement new ideas in each of its products in the orthopedic industry.

Over the years, OT4 has used various 3D printing techniques (e.g. SLS), but it faced the challenge of choosing a technology that better suited its needs and finding the most appropriate CAD software. Previously used 3D printing technologies required expensive materials and processes, and the elements produced were fragile and susceptible to damage. In addition, in terms of cosmetics and aesthetics, the final products were not at the appropriate level. As a result, the company was looking for a new 3D printing technology for its solutions.

The OT4 protective helmet is used after procedures in which skull bones (or parts of them are removed, e.g. during a craniectomy), as a result of which the brain loses part of its protective barrier. It is important that the patient has a light, ventilated and optimally fitting head cover. Finger and hand braces help protect and support the joints and keep the finger joints in proper alignment. With the help of a splint, you can immobilize a joint in a specific position or increase the mobility of a locked joint. Orthoses are not normally used in these cases, but OT4 has decided to research technologies to provide more flexible products.

The Dynamic Ankle Foot Orthosis (DAFO) is the trade name for a lower limb orthosis that provides thin, flexible, external support to the foot, ankle, and/or lower leg. These devices fit snugly around the ankle and correct foot deformities at specific pressure points. They also help improve the mobility and stability of the ankle joint. DAFO orthoses are designed to help patients maintain a functional position, improve stability, enable standing and walking. In order for patients to be able to properly use and take advantage of all the advantages of DAFO, they should be made of a flexible material that allows the orthosis to move with the patient’s body.

OT4 switched from SLS to MJF technology due to the higher quality and durability of parts, made possible by the use of HP 3D HR PA 11 material in printing.

“HP 3D HR PA 11 is a fantastic new material for us because it is more dynamic,” said Ian Spring, Head of Design at OT4. “For us, this is one of the important priorities. We manufacture products that come into contact with the human body. People are moving all the time, so the material has to move too.” Andreas Flamm, CEO of OT4, adds, “Orthoses have to withstand significant elongation forces at all times and have to be flexible. Thin-wall 3D printing with HP PA 11 gave us good results. Our products can also be made thinner, lighter, easier to clean and kinder to the skin.”

To create a protective helmet for patients who have had a craniectomy or part of the brain removed, orthotics around the world have used gypsum to mold the helmet around the patient’s head, using the open skull to fit and form the device. Thanks to HP MJF technology, OT4 uses a non-contact 3D scanning process. HP MJF and OT4 software help create lighter products with thinner walls and better airflow for better patient comfort.

Thanks to the elastic properties and the increased elongation at break of the HP 3D HR PA 11, orthotics can, for example, adjust the hand brace and DAFO to the specific needs of the patient, while achieving the necessary flexibility and durability. Thanks to the MJF OT4 technology, it can now produce products without the need for costly post-processing. Parts produced with HP MJF technology share the same properties in the XYZ axes, which means that the build chamber space can be maximized for each production job and with optimal nesting, which in turn helps to reduce costs.

“By using HP Multi Jet Fusion, we can reduce costs by 30% compared to other technologies,” said Spring.

HP MJF is in practice stronger, more durable elements, thanks to which the final products are not only better in technical terms, but also look more aesthetically pleasing. HP 3D printing technology also saves time for orthotics: “Thanks to HP MJF, orthotics in OT4 can save up to 10 hours of work, depending on the element, compared to other commonly used technologies,” says Flamm.

“3D printing with HP Multi Jet Fusion makes it possible to produce completely new products with functionality that has not been achievable until now,” says Flamm. “Before HP brought this new technology to market, we couldn’t deliver products with the same durability and quality in such a short time.” Spring adds: “We can introduce new elements and new features and improve the quality of life for our patients even further.”

Source: www.drukarki3dhp.pl

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