BASF and Essentium, Inc., under its subsidiary brand TriFusion Devices, bring the strongest 3D printed thermoplastic carbon fiber definitive prosthetic socket to market that is easily customized to ensure the most comfortable fit for patients.
The prosthetic, printed with BASF’s Ultramid® polyamide reinforced with short carbon fiber, is lightweight, yet tough and more flexible than traditional carbon fiber sockets. The definitive socket is made with thermoplastic material that enables small adjustments in increments of 2-3mm without weakening as needed throughout the life cycle of the prosthetic, a crucial development as a patient’s body changes over time. While traditional sockets do not easily accommodate modifications, BASF’s material allows changes to be made directly to the socket to ensure it always fits a patient comfortably.
“It’s a rewarding process to develop the formulation in the lab with Essentium and then turn that resin into a real material, knowing it can impact prosthetic patients in a positive way,” said Oleksandra Korotchuk, New Market Development Scout, Performance Materials at BASF. “It’s a true validation of the partnership and we will continue to uncover new materials and techniques that will unlock advanced design and speed capabilities.”
To ensure the sockets meet clinicians and patients’ expectations, the companies enlisted Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics, a Southeast Mich. based clinic, as a validation partner. BASF introduced Essentium to Chris Casteel, owner of Anew Life, to determine the fit and function of TriFusion 3D printed sockets. As a clinician, past manufacturing professional and amputee himself, Casteel works with patients to test the sockets and provide real-time feedback to Essentium and BASF on improvements to the 3D printing process and material selection. According to Casteel, patients shared that the test sockets fit like a glove and are overall more comfortable.
“Just like anything else, it’s one thing to hear about a product like this, but another thing to actually feel and touch it,” Casteel said. “We received extremely positive feedback from patients on the 3D printed test sockets and it is incredible to see and feel how well they fit. This is a huge success for the prosthetic industry and I look forward to seeing what comes next.”
Patient safety and satisfaction are of utmost importance, so while the development of 3D printed prosthetic devices is not yet regulated by the FDA, Essentium and BASF choose to follow the strict standards outlined in the regulatory body’s guidelines for Additive Manufacturing set forth December, 2017. Each of the 30-step manufacturing process is documented and the devices are hand inspected before being shipped to clinicians.
A traditional carbon fiber socket typically takes three days of labor by a technician to mold and cast. The 3D printed socket streamlines the time- and resource-intensive production process to less than 24 hours from scan to ship. This allows for efficient order fulfillment, increased patient interface and profitability for clinicians. It also eliminates human error as the scan ensures the socket fit is close to correct the first time.
“The materials used in these definitive sockets have the power to open up people’s lives to more mobility and more freedom,” said Blake Teipel, president and co-founder of Essentium, Inc. “As we propel 3D printing of functional parts, we’re proud to make a prosthetic that’s more customized, lightweight, affordable and comfortable for the patient, and make the production process easier and more efficient for the clinician.”
The companies are also actively pursuing the production of a multi-material 3D printed prosthetic with rigid and flexible TPU elements. The hard-soft socket would allow clinicians to implement soft material into the design for increased comfort on sensitive areas. It is expected to launch in 2018.
The 3D printed prosthetic leg, with the carbon fiber definitive socket and foot, will be on display at NPE 2018.
BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has more than 18,200 employees in North America, and had sales of $17.9 billion in 2017.
At BASF (basf.com), we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. The more than 115,000 employees in the BASF Group work on contributing to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into five segments: Chemicals, Performance Products, Functional Materials & Solutions, Agricultural Solutions and Oil & Gas. BASF generated sales of €64.5 billion in 2017. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (BAS).
About Essentium, Inc.
As innovators in both materials and production systems, Essentium is committed to creating industrial solutions for the world’s top manufacturers. It is providing a new generation of 3D industrial solutions with performance, efficiency, and economics in mind. Later on this year Essentium will release an industrial machine that will be ten times faster and more accurate than any other printer on the market allowing manufacturers to finally be able to produce at scale. Read more at essentium3d.com.
TriFusion Devices (trifusiondevices.com), a subsidiary brand of Essentium (MaterialsGenius), is utilizing FlashFuse™ technology to revolutionize the orthotic and prosthetic industry by offering 100% customized, 3D printed structural and in-clinic prosthetic and orthotic devices.
About Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics
Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics (anewlifepando.com) is committed to providing each patient with an exceptional level of care and attention. At Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics, we are proud to be practitioner owned and operated. Our dedicated staff works together as a team to provide high-quality comprehensive care. Our compassionate and understanding practitioners take pride in paying close attention to each patient's needs. When you are ready to take charge and return to life following limb loss please contact Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics. We provide prosthetic (artificial limb) or orthotic (brace) devices. Our Detroit office is open and we are currently accepting patients. Thank you and remember that there is life after limb loss.