Additive manufacturing, and 3D printing in particular, is an area that is constantly producing innovations. A current example of this is a project by students at Trier University of Applied Sciences, who have developed a system for producing customized orthoses. These are to be used in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and medical supply stores and offer patients a custom-fit, comfortable solution.
The system, a combination of a measuring platform and 3D printing technology, makes it possible to produce customized orthoses quickly and efficiently on site. The measuring platform works in a similar way to a foot length gauge in a shoe store and precisely records the measurements of the injured finger. Specialized software uses this data to generate the 3D model of the orthosis, which is then implemented by a 3D printer.
One challenge during development was the precise and hygienic measurement of the fingers. This is where the collaboration with the company igus, which specializes in linear guides, came into play.
“The attempts to produce a guide ourselves using the 3D printer were not satisfactory,” says student Allan Schmitz. “With the help of the ready-to-install miniature guideways from the drylin N series in size 17, we were able to create the guideways for our measuring plate very easily.”
These guides are made of high-performance plastics with integrated solid lubricants, which ensure low-friction and maintenance-free operation.
It is particularly noteworthy that the students received support from igus as part of the “young engineers support” (yes) program. In addition to materials, this program also offers workshops, lectures and career opportunities.
“Thanks to being lubrication-free, our miniature linear guides work precisely, smoothly, maintenance-free and particularly hygienically in medical areas for many years,” says Michael Hornung, Product Manager drylin Linear and Drive Technology at igus. “It is very important to us to invest in the young talent of tomorrow and to promote projects. In this way, future specialists get to know igus and appreciate the fact that all of our linear guides do not require lubrication – and thus also our activities in the area of sustainability and recycling,” says Hornung.
This project impressively demonstrates how the combination of innovative technology and practical application can create real added value. The custom-made orthoses from the 3D printer represent a significant improvement in the medical field and offer patients a customized, comfortable and efficient solution.