BASF and Essentium together under a subsidiary brand named TriFusion devices, develop the strongest 3D printed thermoplastic carbon fiber definitive prosthetic socket to enhance the satisfaction and comfortable fits for its patients.
The prosthetic is printed with BASF’s Ultramid polyamide reinforced along with short carbon fiber that is lightweight, tough and flexible. The socket is made of thermoplastic material that helps small adjustments in increments of 2-3mm without weakening as required in the entire life cycle of the prosthetic.
The socket is developed to increase patient comfort level as it allows changes to be made directly to the socket to ensure proper fitting. This is not possible with traditional sockets.
Oleksandra Korotchuk, New Market Development Scout, Performance Materials at BASF said, “It’s a rewarding process to develop the formulation in the lab with Essentium and then turn that resin into a real material, knowing it can impact prosthetic patients in a positive way.”
He also added, “It’s a true validation of the partnership and we will continue to uncover new materials and techniques that will unlock advanced design and speed capabilities.”
To make sure that the sockets fulfill clinicians and patients expectations, the companies have enlisted Anew Life Prosthetics and Orthotics, a Southeast Mich. based clinic as validating partners.
BASF has introduced Essentium to Chris Casteel, owner of Anew Life, to check the fit & function of Tri-fusion 3D printed sockets. Casteel is working with patients to test and provide feedback to the companies about socket functioning. According to him, patients are giving a positive feedback as the socket is comfortable.
Casteel said, “Just like anything else, it’s one thing to hear about a product like this, but another thing to actually feel and touch it.”
He also said, “We received extremely positive feedback from patients on the 3D printed test sockets and it is incredible to see and feel how well they fit. This is a huge success for the prosthetic industry and I look forward to seeing what comes next.”
As patient safety and comfort Is important, both the companies choose to follow strict standards outlined by the regulatory body’s guidelines for Additive Manufacturing set forth December 2017. The 30-step of manufacturing processes is documented and hand inspected before being shipped to clinicians.
Normally, a traditional carbon fiber socket involves three days of labor to mold and cast whereas the 3D printed socket is completed in less than 24 hours from scan to ship. This enhances the availability and reduces chances of human error.
Blake Teipel, president and co-founder of Essentium, Inc, said, “The materials used in these definitive sockets have the power to open up people’s lives to more mobility and more freedom,”
He also added, “As we propel 3D printing of functional parts, we’re proud to make a prosthetic that’s more customized, lightweight, affordable and comfortable for the patient, and make the production process easier and more efficient for the clinician.”
Now the companies are actively beginning the production of sockets with rigid and flexible TPU elements.