From a senior design project in college to a full company manufacturing various prosthetics and orthotics that are sold throughout the United States, Protosthetics has leveraged LulzBot 3D printers to rapidly develop and bring its affordable solutions to 3D printing in the medical field. At the Protosthetics headquarters in Fargo, North Dakota, USA, nearly a dozen LulzBot 3D printers are used to positively impact patients’ lives by 3D printing prosthetics.
“The benefit of having the LulzBot 3D printers for us has really been the fact that not only are they a high-quality, very robust machine to start with but the community and the Open Source nature have allowed us to basically build on top of that and incorporate our own characteristics and functionality,” Josh Teigen, chief visionary at Protosthetics, said. “Having the support behind that has been one of the biggest keys to our success as a manufacturer in being able to actually deliver clinically relevant products to our customers.”
The modified LulzBot 3D printers at Protosthetics boast nearly four feet of build height and are primarily used for manufacturing patient-specific sockets as well as the Protosthetics Amphibian Leg, a durable, waterproof, and affordable prosthetic leg 3D printed with NinjaFlex components. Unlike a patient’s primary prosthetic leg, the Amphibian can be used in the shower or any other wet or dirty environment. Protosthetics also fabricates custom activity-specific attachments and accessories that can vary in material depending on the use, such as a prosthetic device that holds a kayak paddle.
Cura LulzBot Edition software is also useful in Protosthetics’ efforts towards 3D printing in the medical field.
“For the average user, it’s some basic settings, but then you can expand it to really make it do a lot more things,” Cooper Bierscheid, chief futurist at Protosthetics, said. “I think it’s pretty fast and efficient of generating the GCODE, and I really like the feel of it.”
“We run our printers pretty hard, and reliability-wise they’ve all been very, very good,” Teigen said. “I think that’s actually one of the biggest reasons that we went with LulzBot 3D printers versus some of the other printers out there is just the reliability and the uptime.”
Protosthetics also appreciates the ease of use with the LulzBot 3D printers thanks to the instructions and user manual provided and the Open Source nature of the machines, something that is particularly useful if preventative maintenance needs to occur.
Utilizing LulzBot 3D printers as a manufacturing platform in 3D printing prosthetics has allowed Protosthetics to innovate and iterate quickly, necessary attributes of a contemporary manufacturing startup.
“You’re able to get your idea out of your head and into the physical world and reiterate that process over and over, and it really alleviates a lot of the costs in rapid prototyping those different devices and coming up with new devices that help people and then eventually moving into final products that help people,” Bierscheid said. “I think the LulzBot 3D printers are great tools.”
Photos licensed CC BY-SA 4.0 International © Protosthetics.