Creation of orthopedics and optimal prosthetics with Artec Eva and Spider
The global orthopedic and prosthetic (O&P) market was estimated at $8.15 billion in 2017. This number is increasing worldwide every year due to an ageing population, increased sports-related injuries and low physical fitness, as well as the increasing volume of diabetes. Amputations and bone cancer. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 60 is expected to double from 962 million in 2017 to 2.1 billion in 2050.
As demand for O&P products increases, government health plans and insurance companies have been looking more closely at claims than ever before, not simply paying as they did before. What this means for O&P specialists is narrower margins, so they focus on delivering solutions that are much needed and not available in stock.
One such O&P practice is Hagen Orthotics & Prosthetics of Willmar, Minnesota. The owner, Warren Hagen, a combat veteran, expert in orthopedics and certified prosthetics, has focused on his passion for offering the best O&P solutions to his patients. Warren believes that technology plays a crucial role, because what has worked for many years is not always what works best. Every day, look for ways to make your products and services better and better.
Which brings us to the 3D scan. What would only have been a sci-fi fan’s dream a few years ago, has now become a reality. Patients sit, relax, and have their legs, feet, arms, or other parts of their bodies scanned with a handheld 3D scanner. This usually takes 2 to 5 minutes. These scans are then converted into 3D models intended for a 3D printer or specialized router that “size” EVA foam prostheses and other materials. All this is done in the same office. And the levels of accuracy, cost savings and product quality have been remarkable.
“With each step, from the scanner to the use of the router, the time savings are at least 30%,” said Warren Hagen, “and, in the long run, the total cost savings have exceeded 30%.”
But it wasn’t always like that. They have used several 3D scanners over the years, such as Amfit, but after careful research, they eventually decided on Artec Eva and Spider, two professional 3D color scanners that are known for their use in fields such as medicine, science and others Industries. Both scanners use 100% safe structured light, making them perfect for medicine, both technicians and patients. Eva was purchased from a Gold Certified Laser Design and Spider dealer from a Rapidscan 3D dealer.
“Each of our Artec scanners allows us to produce amazing models to work with,” Hagen said, “Eva is the best way to work with larger body parts, and Space Spider is perfect for casting models and smaller, more detailed projects.”
To design O&P products, in the past, before the 3D scan, they used plaster and fiberglass to make the molds for patients. While these technologies are certainly an option if needed, they are complicated and time-consuming, as plaster plaster does take an average of 200% to 500% of the time needed to perform an accurate 3D digital scan (2-5 minutes for a scan) versus 11 minutes with the traditional method. Cost savings are also impressive, with an average distribution costing more than $50 in materials, not to mention the labor costs associated with its creation. The cost of a 3D scan is much lower.
“Many of our patients are elderly, and having to sit still for a cast is not comfortable for them,” Hagen said, “and that’s where Eve and the Space Spider really shine… having to sit still just a couple of minutes makes it a much more enjoyable experience for them.
And in recent years, the increase in patient satisfaction has gone from “satisfied” to “enchanted”. Hagen explained: “Our patients quickly see that this is not something they can buy without a prescription… it’s a custom product designed exactly for them.” , created to perfectly fit your anatomy and lifestyle, and will last them a long time. Mobility is very important, especially as we age. And we’re giving them back that, with real comfort, and it’s something they tell their family and friends.
The current work process is as follows: the patient enters and evaluates, which involves a physical, verbal, patient history, etc. then scans the patient’s arm or leg or another part of the body with Eva or Space Spider , where scans are performed directly in Artec Studio, which is where scans are joined and processed in a 3D model, and in the case of a one-foot model is sent as an STL file to Fitfoot360 (a custom orthopedic design program) , or meshmixer for other parts of the body (leg, arm, etc.), and after any of them, the 3D model is shipped. Aspire software to prepare the 3D model to be carved, finally sent to the Freedom router to carve it.
The final 3D model can also be sent to Simplify, for 3D printing. In the case of a prosthesis, after cutting, the top cover is glued and the finished product is carried to the patient for adjustment. When it comes to 3D printing, the practice is also to design and create devices for legs, wrists, feet and hands regularly.
“The level of accuracy we’re talking about is unbeatable, and the fact that we can always deliver it, without a doubt, is something we just can’t ignore,” Hagen said, “And scanning with Eva and Space Spider is as easy as 1-2-3, where you can see the scan right there on the screen in Artec Studio, so you know exactly that your scan is capturing all the data, because you see it in real time.”
They have also been using Eva and Space Spider for a process they have called “Shell Offset”. It involves scanning the specific part of the body, such as an arm or a leg, and then sending the 3D model to a program like Meshmixer. For example, if a patient has broken his right arm, then it is his left arm that is scanned with Eva (Space Spider is used for the smallest parts of the body), because the left arm is the healthy limb. In the software, this limb is “reflected” so that it now looks like the patient’s right arm. This creates the desired level of symmetry with the left and right arms.
From there, the 3D model of the new arm is modified to eliminate any defects or to add the buildup of the arm in bone areas or near the joints. This is to add comfort points to the appliance after it is printed. From this point on, the “housing” is created by making a digital copy of the arm and increasing the shift in size to any desired thickness. The size of the 3D digital tip is enlarged at the x, y, and z coordinates. Both the modified limb and the casing cover are selected in the software, to make the shell/hollow reinforcement cover using the Boolean difference editing command in Meshmixer.
“That’s how we create a perfect cover, casing, etc. “, said Hagen, “We also do some things like build key areas of the appliance to reinforce against breakage, and we also use the software to cut and trim areas around the appliance so that the patient can remove it more easily. Then we send the device to our 3D printer”.
“Our appliances are designed to last for many months, if not years, depending on the patient’s use, the design of the device and the materials used.” Hagen Orthotics and Prosthetics uses the highest quality of materials such as EVA, MDF, as well as various plastics such as PETG, PLA, copolymer, polypropylene and PCTPE. “Obviously, a grandmother and an obese 320 pounds will need different types of gadgets, and we’re happy to say that we can always give them, or anyone else, exactly what they need.”