Examining the viability of carbon fiber reinforced three-dimensionally printed prosthetic feet created by composite filament fabrication.
BACKGROUND::A low-cost, yet high-functioning, fabrication method for prosthetic components is needed to provide underserved amputee communities with quality mobility devices. Three-dimensional printing is a potential alternative, yet limitations in material characteristics have previously prevented the technology from emerging as a solution. OBJECTIVE::To validate the application of a novel three-dimensional printing technique as a fabrication method for creating fiber composite patient end-use prosthetic feet. STUDY DESIGN::Experimental designs were iterated upon throughout mechanical testing. METHODS::A testing apparatus capable of loading prosthetic feet in dorsiflexion and plantarflexion was constructed. Load displacement data were gathered, and energy analyses were conducted. The three-dimensionally printed feet were compared to a Freedom Innovations Renegade® MX carbon fiber foot and a solid-ankle cushion heel foot. RESULTS::The three-dimensionally printed feet achieved energy profiles that were similar, and in some cases preferable, to the energy profiles of the Renegade MX and solid-ankle cushion heel foot. The stiffness profiles of the three-dimensionally printed feet varied widely and depended greatly on the design of the feet, as well as the amount and location of the fiber reinforcement. CONCLUSION::Composite filament fabrication three-dimensional printing has the potential to serve as a fabrication method for the production of energy returning prosthetic feet. CLINICAL RELEVANCE::The results of this study indicate that carbon fiber reinforced three-dimensionally printed prosthetic feet have the potential to serve as a low-cost alternative to carbon fiber prosthetic feet and that three-dimensional printing has the capacity to function as a viable fabrication method for patient end-use prosthetic components.
Warder, HH; Fairley, JK; Coutts, J; Glisson, RR; Gall, K
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