Project: Novel system for the mass customization of foot-orthotics using Rapid Manufacturing with tailored-to-function finishing’s.

Foot diseases are recognized as a wide societal problem, reducing mobility, social activity and quality of life of the people suffering from it [1, 2]. Around 40% of the European population (237 million people) will suffer some kind of foot abnormality or severe pain [3, 4]. This results in a significant cost for the European Public Health System, estimated at €2 billion per year [5]._x000D__x000D_Approximately 18% of all foot diseases (42 million people) are related to biomechanical foot disorders [6], requiring custom foot orthotics to correct the foot structure and control excessive motion, while providing a proper support and pressure distribution, preventing any aggravation and alleviating existing pain. The efficacy of foot orthotics as treatment is directly related to its biomechanical performance, the redistribution of forces through the foot structure and the distribution of pressures over the contact area [7, 8]. These aspects depend essentially on the geometrical design of the orthotic and the mechanical properties of the materials used [9]._x000D__x000D_Despite the fact that personalized foot orthotics are considered as the most convenient treatment for biomechanical foot disorders and the only non-surgical alternative, its fabrication still reCOs an art rather than a controlled process [10]. Hence, from the 13 million of Europeans using custom foot orthotics, a very high percentage (78%, 10 million people) still suffer from some grade of foot soreness after initial treatment [2], requiring successive trial and error modifications._x000D__x000D_Orthotic manufacturing is moving towards the use of 3D laser scanners to acquire the foot shape, using CAD-software to design the personalized orthotic and CNC milling (CAM) for manufacturing. Podoactiva has contributed to an advance in the State of Art with their self-developed and patented membrane-based digitizer [11]. (See figure 1) Enveloping the soft adipose foot tissue while preventing it from flattening on top of the hard (glass) digitizer’s surface, enables the acquisition of the foot´s musculoskeletal shape required for an accurate foot orthotic design._x000D__x000D_Although the use of CAD/CAM is improving speed, reliability and accuracy of orthotic manufacturing, the global process still presents critical restrictions. These include the limited selection of materials, geometrical restrictions, high amount of waste material generated by CNC milling, as well as the limitation to a one-lot size production, preventing its widespread application in the industry [12]._x000D__x000D_Therefore, the aim of the project is to develop an accurate and reliable process for the mass customization of foot orthotics, employing emerging Rapid Manufacturing techniques, especially Selective Laser Sintering, in order to increase the geometrical design versatility, the speed and accuracy of the process, the production capacity and the mechanical adaptability of the orthotic [13]._x000D__x000D_RapidOrtez project will lead to the development of a mass customization process for highly effective custom foot orthotics based on the following achievements:_x000D_- Automatic development of a customized orthotic shell integrating the necessary anatomical elements, based of the patients feet scan obtained with the membrane-based digitizer and the medical diagnosis and prescription_x000D_- Characterization of the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and post-process parameters to tailor-to-function the mechanical properties of the customized shell_x000D_- Development of a web-based software application including three modules: Prescription Support, Rapid Manufacturing and Management_x000D_- Set-up of the RapidOrtez system, including the arrangement of the Design, Manufacturing and Assembly Units_x000D__x000D_By means of the Prescription Support Module and the scanned feet, the medical practitioner will prescribe an orthotics, which will be sent to the Design Unit for customized CAD shell design, and finally to the Manufacturing Unit. In the Assembly Unit, the shell will be assembled with the required inserts and accommodative materials, obtaining the final custom foot orthotic. A web-based tool will manage the entire process, enabling all stakeholders to trace the status of the process._x000D__x000D_The project consortium is integrated by:_x000D_- Podoactiva, a Spanish network of foot treatment centres using latest CAD/CAM technologies for the diagnosis, prescription and manufacturing of personalized foot orthotics_x000D_- Plus90, a Turkish Rapid Manufacturing service centre, specialized at the tailoring and enhancement of mechanical properties of RM products, controlling manufacturing parameters and applying advanced post-processes_x000D__x000D_Thanks to the results of the project, the project consortium will improve their competitiveness in the foot orthotics and rapid manufacturing markets while expanding their business activities to the European market. Foot treatment centers and medical practitioners will benefit from the project results, offering to their customers an improved service of personalized orthotics._x000D_

Acronym RapidOrtez (Reference Number: 6824)
Duration 01/05/2012 - 30/04/2014
Project Topic RapidOrtez will develop a mass customization system for foot orthotics. Based on the digitized patients feet and the introduced prescription, a parameterized orthotic will be personalized and rapid manufactured, while mechanical properties are tailored-to-function by means of post-processes.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
Result 1: Design algorithms for the generation of the personalized orthotic shell._x000D_It is a set of plug-ins enabling the semi- automatic generation of design of the customized foot orthotic form the 3D foot scan. This process the core of the Rapid Ortez System and is done in the design unit that is centralized in Podoactiva. _x000D__x000D_Result2. Prescription support system: This is a software to communicate the podiatrist with the centralized rapid manufacturing centre. This software includes the management of the patients' data, the configuration of the customized insoles and the subsequent monitoring._x000D__x000D_Result 3. Manufacturing procedures and post process treatments to tailor-to-function rapid manufacturing foot orthoticties._x000D_This is a range of treatment for stereolithography parts that enable the modification of the mechanical properties and aesthetic finishing.
Network Eurostars
Call Eurostars Cut-Off 7

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
2 Podoactiva S.L. Coordinator Spain
2 Artidoksan Hizli Imalat Teknolojileri San. ve Tic. A.S. Partner Turkey