Delcam are embracing the new era of mass customisation within the Additive Manufacturing (AM) orthotic design industry. Utilising 30 years + experience in subtractive manufacturing, Delcam have now embarked on integrating the increasingly sophisticated AM technology into the custom orthotic insole solution designs using research conducted with customers all over the world.
Back in 2010 Delcam first looked at AM for the orthotics and prosthetics industry; working with Adrian Bowyer of Bath University using a RepRap to print custom PLA insoles.
More recently with Delcam s orthotics solution software, OrthoMODEL, the Healthcare team were able to transfer the surface data across into ArtCAM (Delcam s artistic CAD/CAM package). By combining the functionality of these two software packages, Delcam have been able to generate and print a series of concept designs which demonstrate some of the possibilities for AM orthotics. The process comprised of creating the orthotic designs within OrthoMODEL and importing into ArtCAM where additional product features were added. These included structural ribs for strength, high resolution 3D relief for aesthetics and textures/aeration holes for possible clinical benefits.
Also new within OrthoMODEL is the ability to combine 2D image and pressure data with 3D CAD to create full colour wrapped 3D models. This enables the user to better appreciate the link between the 2D pressure mats and 3D scanning and make a more informed decision as to the prescribed orthotic functions and the locations of pads and relief. Multiple images can be wrapped onto either the 3D scans or the orthotic. At Delcam we are aware that a wide range of potential customers are embracing the advances forward in the AM sector. New materials and increased design freedom offered by AM is expanding the creative capabilities of designers allowing mass customisation to be offered (primarily by subtractive manufacture) together with bespoke requests for the first time. Delcam are excited to be able to invest resources into providing a flexible design solution for customers.
AM does not replace the faster and more economical subtractive milling method but it does open some new and interesting doors. For example, by 3D printing an orthotic, the practitioner is able to design the ideal custom insole unhindered by the restrictions of conventional manufacturing
Chris Lawrie the Healthcare Business Development Manager at Delcam believes "In a world where waste reduction is increasingly on people s agendas, AM certainly offers potential to be the greener choice in the future. We are aware that machine prices are coming down, but the real change will come first from faster printing technologies and then from an increase in the choice of functional materials .