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A-Footprint: Curing Europe's foot problems with 3D printing
We’ve heard about the ways 3D printing can reduce carbon footprint but how about improve your actual footprint? 200 million Europeans suffer from disabling foot and ankle problems and over €300 million is spent every year treating those. Splints and orthotic insoles are normally made using the traditional manufacturing processes; impression casts, hand crafting etc. These are time consuming, expensive and make repeat prescriptions very difficult to reproduce.
A-Footprint want to change all that with the help of 3D printing. The European study group, headed up by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Professor Jim Woodburn, received EC backing to the tune of €3.7million to develop a process to speed up and improve the customisation of orthoses.
Because every patient’s disability in this field is different achieving one set process for pain relief is impossible, it is all down to tailoring every splint or inner sole to the individual. Owing to the fact that 3D printers can develop complex shapes, with no assembly in a relatively short amount of time it is expected that with the A-Footprint model the process can be sped up and enhanced in a colossal amount.
“We want to take advantage of the 3D printing process to really speed up how orthotics are made. So a patient can come into the clinic in the morning, be assessed, have a foot scan and come back that afternoon to pick up their finished device.” Dr Scott Telfer, A-footprint research fellow