VUT Science Park successfully prints a prosthetic leg for research purposes
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VUT Science Park successfully prints a prosthetic leg for research purposes

VUT Science Park Design Team, Patient and the Doctor

Stephen Bond

The VUT Design Department handed over 3D-printed socket component of a below-the-knee amputation prosthetic leg to Mark Poole, a patient of Dr Heinrich Grimsehl, a renowned prosthetist at The Arc. Rehabilitation Centre in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. The socket, which is currently made from carbon fibre, attaches the prosthesis to the patient’s residual limb.

The printed socket is the culmination of a collaboration between The Arc. and the VUT Science Park Design Department. Thanks to Dr Grimsehl’s extensive experience, the department gained insight into the complex and time-consuming process of developing a prosthetic limb and sought to find opportunities within that process for 3D-printing to add value or reduce time.

The Arc. provided the Design Department with the positive mould of the residual limb that they developed in order to produce the patient’s test socket. A patient uses a test socket for a period of 3-4 weeks to make sure the socket fit (which is critical for patient comfort) is correct. The positive mould was three-dimensionally scanned to generate the CAD data required for printing the socket. At the handover, Dr Grimsehl attached the required hardware (prosthetic components) to the printed socket and made the necessary alignment adjustments.

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