The medical industry has taken massive leaps forward since the introduction of Additive Manufacturing. With the rise in adoption rate of Additive Manufacturing in the last few years, we have seen a wide spectrum of uses in the medical space.
A whole new world of customized orthotics, prosthetics and medical device components is now possible.
With the advent of Multi Jet Fusion technology since its implementation in 2017, the medical industry is now able to consider an alternative form of manufacturing to plastic injection molding to produce medical devices for patients worldwide.
With a growing trend of increasing affluence, there is a greater demand for a higher quality of life. The increasing need for personal comfort for foot pain, and the prevalence of foot ailments is driving the adoption for foot orthoses.
The current global foot orthotic insoles market size was valued at US $3.49 Billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to USD $6.15 Billion by 2029 with a CAGR of 6.6%.
There are 2 types of foot orthoses: Prefabricated and Custom made Prefabricated foot orthoses are typically mass manufactured. While these are generally affordable at a low cost to patients ($50 - $200), they are generally ineffective in providing a long term solution with little to no benefits.
Custom made foot orthoses have been proven to be far more effective in treating patient problems. Traditionally, the orthotist manufactures each pair by hand after taking careful measurements of the patient. Each pair would typically go for $500 due to the laborious nature of crafting each piece carefully.
How Additive Manufacturing can help
In the last couple of years, there have been a number of Additive Manufacturing technologies that have started producing custom made foot orthoses for patients worldwide. Technologies such as Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) from EOS, Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) from Carbon as well as Stereolithography (SLA) from FormLabs have started manufacturing custom made insoles for various medical companies.
What the process is like
By utilizing 3D scanners, the orthotist can capture an accurate representation of the patient’s foot. By leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) coupled with proprietary algorithms, they are able to develop a 3D model to design the best foot orthotic for the patient.
Depending on the technology, they can print the foot orthotic in a variety of materials with varied stiffness for the most effective results. Materials range from various grades of Nylon and Elastomers such as TPU and PU.
Additive Manufacturing not only enables companies to ensure a repeatable and reliable process, but is also able to reduce the labor cost and time to manufacture and deliver the products. This has allowed custom made insoles by Additive Manufacturing to be much more affordable to patients at roughly $150 a pair.
How Endeavor 3D can help
With the Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology by HP entering the industry in 2017, mass manufacturing rivalling that of plastic injection molding is closer to being a reality. MJF takes the best of each print technology, the speed of SLS, the intricacy of DLS and the precision of SLA, to produce quick and accurate detailed parts.
By utilizing MJF, medical companies are now able to print in an even wider range of materials with superior properties. Moving away from the typical PA 12 Nylon, MJF is also able to print in PA 11, a variation of Nylon with increased flexibility for increased patient comfort. In addition, MJF is also able to print elastomers such as TPU for much higher flexural capabilities where needed.
With rapid print speeds, Endeavor 3D can print up to 3400 pairs of custom foot orthoses in a month with our range of MJF printers in our facility based in Georgia.
At a high-volume production rate, medical companies are now able to reap economies of scale to produce custom foot orthoses matching that of current prefabricated prices.
Foot orthoses are now comfortable and affordable.
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