PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to describe a novel design workflow for the digital fabrication of custom-made orthoses (CMIO). It is intended to provide an easier process for clinical practitioners and orthotic technicians alike. It further functions to reduce the dependency of the operators’ abilities and skills.Design/methodology/approachThe technical assessment covers low-cost three-dimensional (3D) scanning, free computer-aided design (CAD) software, and desktop 3D printing and acetone vapour finishing. To analyse its viability, a cost comparison was carried out between the proposed workflow and the traditional CMIO manufacture method.FindingsThe results show that the proposed workflow is a technically feasible and cost-effective solution to improve upon the traditional process of design and manufacture of custom-made static trapeziometacarpal (TMC) orthoses. Further studies are needed for ensuring a clinically feasible approach and for estimating the efficacy of the method for the recovery process in patients.Social implicationsThe feasibility of the process increases the impact of the study, as the great accessibility to this type of 3D printers makes the digital fabrication method easier to be adopted by operators.Originality/valueAlthough some research has been conducted on digital fabrication of CMIO, few studies have investigated the use of desktop 3D printing in any systematic way. This study provides a first step in the exploration of a new design workflow using low-cost digital fabrication tools combined with non-manual finishing.
Rapid Prototyping Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Oct 17, 2017