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overview › March 14, 2016

Focus on 3D printing

There is currently hot debate about prototype orthoses and prostheses being made on the 3D printer. OTWorld 2016 will be considering the potential and the limitations of 3D technology.

“Additive manufacture is one of the much-discussed topics in technical orthopaedics,” emphasises Michael Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of the German Association of Orthopaedic Technology (Bundesinnungsverband für Orthopädie-Technik) and member of the Steering Committee for OTWorld 2016. “OTWorld presents and discusses the latest possibilities for 3D printing in everyday orthopaedic practice, as well as the feasibility of its use,” observes Schäfer. “The trade and professional visitors can get a balanced picture of how and whether this technology is set to impact the everyday life of the technician.” Manufacture of prostheses and orthoses using 3D printing techniques is still very much in its infancy, but there are some exciting developments to be seen in various research projects. “The first products are already on the market. They include waterproof prostheses, designer protective wear, cosmetic bridging pieces and 3D printed orthoses,” says the Managing Director of POHLIG GmbH.

At all events, the choice of plastics and metals for 3D printing is still limited and has, therefore, set limits to its use in orthopaedic technology. Schäfer is convinced, however, that“ OTWorld will provide new stimulus with regard to the variety of materials and designs.” Accordingly, the symposium will provide information on “Innovative Materials and Manufacturing Techniques in Orthopaedic Technology” and will include, amongst other things, 3D printing. Furthermore, Dr. Urs Schneider, Head of the Department of Biomechatronic Systems at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA), will devote his keynote speech entitled “Opportunities and challenges in the manufacture of the orthopaedic technology of tomorrow” to the question of how 3D printing will change the way orthoses and prostheses are made to meet the individual patients needs.

At the worlds leading trade fair of its kind, you can experience additive manufacturing live: the FabBus “Wolfgang” from the Goethe Lab project for additive manufacturing at the university of applied sciences in Aachen has demonstrations of modern 3D printing technology on two floors. This mobile laboratory of the future is installed in an adapted double-decker bus, which was once part of the Berlin traffic network. Eight work stations, at which 3D objects can be designed in virtual format, are built into this unique classroom. The university have brought along a 3D-printed prosthetic hand as their showpiece. The Ama Prosthesis – Additive Manufactured Prosthesis – is a prototype that has been developed in the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Mechatronics. It is a body-powered prosthesis, which might, for instance, be used as a form of treatment for instance, in the third world. As a prosthesis which can “grow with you” it is thought to be specifically suited to children.

Author

Karoline Nöllgen

Phone: +49 341 678-6524
Email: k.noellgen @ leipziger-messe.de