Walking the dog…taking the stairs…strolling through the grocery store…jogging on a treadmill…all of these activities and more can be very difficult, and painful, if you are one of the millions of people around the world who suffers from foot pain. The large market for foot orthotics is growing every day, and while traditional methods of manufacturing can’t always quickly or cost-effectively produce custom, advanced orthotic designs, 3D printing can. 3D printing solutions company Stratasys has worked to produce 3D printed orthotics before, even joining with Altair Engineering and the University of Michigan Orthotics and Prosthetics Center to leverage 3D printing and Industry 4.0 to make better Ankle Foot Orthotics for veterans. Now, the company’s 3D printing and advanced manufacturing service provider, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing (SDM), has partnered with medical equipment supplier Peacocks Medical Group to maximize 3D printing for the large-scale production of custom orthotics.
Together, the two are introducing Podfo, orthotics built through the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printing process. The technology can create complex design geometries, and allows for multiple features in one device, which means no more pads and foams or top-covers, like traditionally manufactured orthotics include. Peacocks created the Podfo line to offer patients increased mobility, pain relief, and a customized experience, and Podfos definitely deliver.
Steve Cook, Business Development Director at Podfo, said, “Backed by an unmatched global footprint and ecosystem, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing gives us a virtually unlimited global manufacturing platform fueled by 3D printing. That’s a huge competitive advantage for us.”
Podfo orthotics are thin and lightweight, comfortable but tough, and offer patients improvement in mobility, which leads to independence and relief from foot pain. 3D printing allows for advanced, customized designs, so the foot orthotics have an extremely accurate fit, and can offer precise areas of flexibility and control. Podfos are manufactured using Nylon 11 material, which went through 10 million cycles of durability and flex testing, to ensure that the unique designs remain effective for years.
“In a field like medicine where customization is key, our work with Podfo perfectly exemplifies how 3D printing produces highly specific solutions to improve a patient’s quality of life. We’re putting the power of 3D printing to work with Podfo – delivering medical solutions that significantly improve clinical outcomes of the most complex foot ailments,” said Scott Rader, General Manager of Medical Solutions at Stratasys.
Podfos vary flexibility within the device itself, steering the direction of the forces and changing the pressure center, so patients can still enjoy natural movement while getting the support they need. They are custom-made to each patient’s prescription and individual plantar surface, and perfect for sports applications, as they are hygienic, waterproof, washable, and up to 50% lighter than conventional orthotic devices.
The Podfo line is designed to precisely meet the needs of each patient, so only podiatrists and other healthcare professionals can prescribe them. To order Podfos, healthcare professionals can send in a scan of their patient’s feet, or capture a patient’s corrected foot geometry with impression foam or a cast; healthcare professionals in the UK can mail these directly to Podfo, or scan the cast/impression and send Podfo the file.
Last year, Peacocks switched from using black nylon powder to white, in order to experiment with product colors and offer patients even more customization. Additionally, the Podfo line consists of four separate options:
- Podfo Ghost Medial Arch Stiffener: for patients with a stable fore-foot and benefit from mid-foot and rear-foot control, but want a comfortable device and more natural progression to toe-off.
- Podfo Promo Pronatory-Moment Orthotic: reduces pain and pressure in the knee’s medial compartment by influencing lower limb biomechanics, and encourages greater pronation and reduces pressure in the foot’s medial section.
- Podfo Sumo Supinatory-Moment Orthotic: reduces pain and pressure in the knee’s lateral compartment by influencing lower limb biomechanics, and promotes foot inversion and supination.
- Podfo Progressive Flex First Ray: can replace a traditional cut-out with a more comfortable, flexible element, or be combined with stiff shell or Podfo Ghost in order to create a custom orthotic, able to help with any condition that requires first ray compliance.
Greg Reynolds, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing at SDM, said, “Solving tough design challenges and stimulating innovation are hallmarks of our customers’ success. Podfo is a perfect example of how millions around the world can now experience life-changing impacts made possible by 3D printing.”