While we’ve previously heard how 3D printing methods change the way prosthetic devices are made – at extremely low cost with the ability to customize to users’ exact needs – the same technology can also be applied to functional leg braces.
By Simon, 3D Printer and 3D Printing News June 4, 2015
Used commonly after an injury or illness, leg braces and splints help support limbs that are unable to support a person’s full body weight. While traditionally made leg braces and splints have proven to be fully-functional for a wide variety of users, their actual aesthetic value leaves much to be desired. Aiming to solve this problem once and for all, industrial designer Or Steiner has created a 3D printable design using a Stratasys Objet1000 Multi-material 3D Production System.
Titled the KAFO Splint, Steiner’s fully-customizable and breathable functional leg brace looks more like a fashion accessory than a traditional leg brace – something that many who are in need of a device would surely welcome. Previously, Steiner spent a significant amount of his time at Israel’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design using 3D printing to develop prototypes for a range of product design concepts, so using the technology to its full advantage was something he knew how to do. Although many industrial designers create concept products for their portfolios or to learn more about a product design category, Steiner’s deep-dive into creating a 3D printable leg brace was actually intended as a usable product for an accident victim. The victim, Ron, has been dependent on a wheelchair or braces in combination with crutches, however the braces were extremely heavy and Ron wasn’t a fan of their aesthetic appearance. After Steiner was put in touch with Ron, he was able to craft a 3D printed solution that was made especially for Ron but capable of being customized for any other wearer.
While the KAFO Splint design allows for open airflow and features an overall lightweight design, special consideration was taken to ensure that the leg supports would be able to hold the weight of its user. Use of 3D scanning technology allows for the design to be optimized for a person’s specific weight.