For digitizing the design and manufacturing workflow of prosthetic and orthotic devices with the help of 3D canning, VR, and 3D printing, the Orthotic and Prosthetic Centers at the University of California San Fransisco is one of the most innovative and research-oriented orthopedic institutions in the United States. ShapeLab is used by the researchers at the O&P center to design patient-specific prosthetics and orthotics in a VR environment. The research collaboration with one of the best orthopedic institutions in the world allows us to experiment and create a completely new way of using XR technologies within the healthcare industry.
Traditionally the manufacturing of prosthetic and orthotic devices is a time-consuming process with a significant amount of manual work, which requires technical knowledge. The traditional process starts with an evaluation of the patient (such as a motion test, muscle examinations, etc.) followed by manual measurement of the patient’s body part, which is usually difficult to accomplish precisely.
The next step is the casting process, where technicians create a negative body part mold that they use during manufacturing to create the positive mold. After manufacturing the positive mold, technicians physically modify the shape in ways to allow for a comfortable, effective, and custom-fit device that patients can stand or use functionally. When the positive mold is designed, technicians begin to manufacture the end product based on the mold. They usually use extreme heat, the positive mold is pressed against a sheet of graphite or plastic material. The process is long and loaded with manual work, which raises the opportunity for mistakes. Another problem is the amount of waste that is produced is extremely high compared to digital manufacturing.
Digital manufacturing with the help of Shapelab
In contrast, digital manufacturing is faster, requires less manual work and technical knowledge, produces less waste, and is cheaper and more effective in the long run. At the University of California San Francisco, technicians use our VR sculpting software, Shapelab, to design custom-fit O&P devices. Shapelab is the best-rated, polygon-based VR sculpting application, that allows users to create organic 3D shapes in a VR environment. Shapelab allows them to translate their hand skill into the digital art of making customized medical devices.