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Is podiatry and 3D printed orthotics a match made in heaven?

Orthotics are the principal corrective tool used in podiatry, and clinicians are dependent upon them to help their patients.

Recent developments in 3D optical scanning, computer assisted design, and 3D printing are set to revolutionise the orthotic production industry with the arrival of 3D printed orthotics. 3D printing services in Sydney are already providing these products to consumers.

Traditionally the orthotic production process begins with a plaster casting of a patient’s foot to create a negative mould from which a positive cast can be made. This positive cast is then modified by the technician according to the specifications of the podiatrist. Following this the base of the orthotic is then moulded over this positive cast using materials such as PPE (polypropylene) and EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate). This moulded orthotic is then ground into shape, and lastly corrective layering and covering materials are applied to the surface of the orthotic.

This process of casting, moulding, and grinding can take any number of hours to produce a single orthotic. With the advent of 3D scanning, computer assisted design, and 3D printing technologies this entire process can be streamlined to fast track the production process by reducing the amount of steps necessary. At the clinic a podiatrist can now take a high-resolution 3D optical scan of a patient’s foot, and instantaneously send it to the technician’s lab. There, using computer assisted design and 3D modelling, the technician can modify the patient’s scanned foot to produced the prescribed corrections. The desired orthotic base can then be 3D printed and a cover applied. This technological innovation not only increases the efficiency of the whole process, but the 3D scan of a patient’s foot can be retained by the technician and altered according to future needs. However 3D printing and 3D scanning technology is set to develop even further. This process can be sped up and new materials and methods could mean more breakthroughs in the near future.

Brainchild 3D Printing is available to provide a range of custom 3D printed orthotic designs at an affordable price, allowing huge scope for branding for commercial podiatrists across Australia.