CAM - Digital manufacturing in orthopedic technology
#industry4.0

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM):
From a print file to a finished orthopedic aid

 

Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), is a core part of the digital value chain if you are working digitally in the field of orthopaedic technology.

Always remain flexible: Whether you prefer to have a ready-modeled functional form milled or printed and then thermoformed, or whether you want to 3D print the fully designed orthotic blank. That is entirely up to you.

Hybrid or fully digital? You decide!

When you use the Mecuris Solution Platform, you always decide how deep you want to dive into digital manufacturing. Depending on the stage at which you end the digital processing, you choose between hybrid or fully digital manufacturing.

Correction of a
patient scan

Creation of a digital functional form

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Configuration of the orthosis design

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Hybrid manufacturing

Milling/3D printing of the
digitally created functional form

+ traditional manufacturing of the orthosis (e.g. thermoforming)

Fully digital manufacturing

digitally created functional form + digitally manufactured orthosis blank (3D printing)

Hybrid manufacturing enables a gradual approach to digital fabrication: In this case, you create your previous plaster positive digitally by correcting the patient scan with the Mecuris3D Correction tool and modeling the functional form according using Mecuris3D Modeling.  The digitally created functional form can be downloaded and sent to a manufacturing partner for milling or 3D printing. The final orthosis blank is then manufactured as usual by hand using the thermoforming process.

Take it one step further with fully digital manufacturing: Based on the digitally corrected and modeled functional form, you now also create the orthosis blank digitally, using the Mecuris3D Creator. Then you print the blank conveniently with your manufacturing partner using high-quality 3D printing.

 

Manufacturing methods in the digital manufacturing process

Manufacturing the functional form or orthotic blanks with a service provider is as simple as can be. From the point at which you exit the Mecuris Solution Platform, manufacturing takes place in 5 simple steps:

1

generate STL-file

2

Send file to service provider

3

Transmit printing details

4

Manufacturing of functional form or orthosis blank

5

Post-processing

On this page, we give you all the information you need to hold the finished product in your hands after it has been edited in the Mecuris Solution Platform: 

  • Manufacturing processes at a glance: Technology, materials, advantages

    • Produce functional form as a core in a hybrid process: Milling vs. FDM printing

    • 3D printing orthotic blanks in the fully digital manufacturing process: SLS- vs. MJF-printing

  • 6 tips & tricks on getting started with digital orthotic fabrication

The CAD-manufacturing processes at a glance

 

The functional form as the core of hybrid manufacturing 

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In the hybrid manufacturing process, you traditionally produce the final orthosis blank in your own workshop e. g. using the thermoforming process. You have created and downloaded the required functional form digitally in the Mecuris3D Modeling tool instead of using plaster. It is then milled or 3D printed by a service provider or in-house. A brief overview of the processes: 

CNC milling (Computerized Numeric Control)

CNC milling ("Computerized Numercial Control") is a subtractive manufacturing process. In this method, the functional form is cut out of a block of material (blank) with the aid of milling or cutting tools.

FDM printing (Fused Depositioning Modeling)

3D printing processes are additive manufacturing processes. In FDM printing, the functional form is built up layer by layer from molten plastic. Simple and inexpensive FDM printing is ideally suited for manufacturing functional forms. For the production of an orthosis itself, this manufacturing process is currently ruled out for a wide variety of reasons - e.g. durability.

Choice of materials:

Hard foam

heat resistant and optimal
price-performance ratio

Choice of materials:

Polycarbonate (PC)

High melting temperature

Not suitable: Polylactide (PLA)

melting temperature too low for subsequent thermoforming process

Main advantages:

very precise due to computerized control technology

delivery of the functional form including reinforcement bar

Main advantages:

favorable machine and material prices


unproblematic in-house production


low percentage of waste

The orthosis blank in a fully digital production

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In a fully digital production, you have digitally designed and configured the orthotic blank after modeling it in the Mecuris3D Creator. You then send the finished printing file to a 3D printing service provider after downloading it. While the orthosis blank is being printed, you can focus on the next patient. Afterwards, you provide the delivered blank with closures and padding.

Due to the demands placed on an orthosis, we recommend that you place great value on the highest quality for 3D printing in terms of the resilience and robustness of the finished product. Two additive manufacturing processes are currently particularly suitable for this purpose: 

SLS printing (selective laser sintering)

In this process, a laser heats the powdered base material and fuses it selectively to the contours of the designed 3D file. 

MJF printing (Multijet Fusion)

Using infrared light and two reactants, the powdered base material is fused according to the geometry of the designed 3D file.

Choice of materials:

Polyamide (PA) PA11/PA12

biocompatible and mechanically resilient

Polypropylene (PP)

very high breaking elongation, low weight, good postformability

Choice of materials::

Polyamide (PA) PA12

biocompatible and mechanically resilient

Main advantages:

finishing with grinding/coloring and painting possible

PP: especially well suited for cases where formability is particularly important

Main advantages:

High composite quality ensures high mechanical load capacity

sharp edges and fine details possible

6 tips & tricks from the expert:

Choice of hard foam for CNC milling: 
Choose a 90kg/m³ foam to achieve the best balance between cost, milling time, and post-processing capabilities.

Thermoform with a polycarbonate (PC) functional form made by FDM printing:
Pull 1-2 socks over the model in order not to exceed the model's temperature of 135°C.

PA 11 vs PA12:
While PA11 is more ecological (castor oil base), has better elongation at break and flexibility, PA12 is more convincing in terms of robustness and production time/cost. PA12 is the "older" material and is used on more and larger machines. 

Polypropylene PP:
Particularly well suited for applications in which formability is especially important - for example, in the care of (small) children (keyword: baby bacon).  However, the material cannot be dyed. It always comes in a somewhat yellowish white or in a pale/light gray. 

In-house manufacturing:
The easiest way to get started in the 3D printing world is to have your own FDM printer, so you can make your purpose molds right in the shop or even realize test prints


Dyeing the SLS printed part:
Do you want to achieve long-lasting fresh colors? Then choose a UV-resistant ink

 

The right service provider for you?
You can find possible manufacturing partners on the Mecuris Solution Platform

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possible

service provider

Information on manufacturing

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MSP - Supplier Page

You have successfully created a functional form or a finished orthosis blank? Then off you go into production! If you don't have a manufacturing partner yet, we've linked some possible service providers on the Mecuris Solution Platform for you. So you can quickly get a quote for your file and get started: 

1. Choose a possible service provider

2. Send request via e-mail - please use the respective request forms, which will help you to define the most important parameters.

3. Place order

Please note: all partners based in Europe will also provide their services internationally, with extra charges on shipping and customs.

 
 

STL file and now what?
We go the extra mile with you!

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Do you want to manufacture yourself or have further questions on the subject of digital production? Then take part in a free webinar or arrange an individual consultation with our expert Jannis Breuninger.

The graduate product designer and developer has already conducted research at Fraunhofer IPA in the field of 3D-printed medical and automation applications and developed products in the field of prosthetics and orthotics.

Jannis Breuninger

Digital Transformation

Manager

Opportunities & Challenges in 3D Printing

What are the opportunities & challenges in product development and manufacturing of 3D printed prosthetics and orthotics? Find out in the video with Jannis Breuninger, experienced product developer of 3D printed prosthetic fittings, and Peter Spitzwieser, 3D printing expert and CEO of Formrise GmbH.