December 2014

Building bridges between CAD-CAM hardware and O&P market needs

TechMedBy Samantha Rosenblum

In the world of CAD-CAM, TechMed 3D has it all. Based in Quebec, Canada, the high-tech company specializes in body measurement technologies and digital imaging applications for orthotics and prosthetics production. The TechMed 3D process begins when practitioners use a BodyScan scanner to digitally capture body parts, ranging from anything from lower extremities to the head or torso.

The scanner creates a 3D model in real time in MSoft, TechMed’s proprietary software. Users can immediately modify the file of the 3D model and use it as the template for carving a positive. The file created in MSoft is instantly usable, with no holes, no noise, and no inverted triangles—a perfect workable file, according to TechMed. Practitioners can also send the scan to TechMed 3D for carving. Now, TechMed 3D is raising the bar with plans for a free iPad app to be used with a 3D scanner for mobile devices that will also scan into MSoft.

In addition to its technical services, TechMed 3D prides itself on providing a CAD-CAM system that’s straightforward and user-friendly.

“Beyond a simple scanner, the performance of the system lies in its intuitive range of tools and ease of use, which makes digitizing easy and accessible,” said Michel Babin, the company’s president and founder. “Our core business is really CAD-CAM for human body parts, and nothing else, so we are true experts in the domain. We have concentrated all our efforts to provide customers with the best technology available and democratize it by making it easy so anybody could use it.”

TechMed 3D began when Babin transferred his knowledge of scanners to the world of O&P. As the original equipment manufacturer manager for Creaform, a company based in Lévis, Quebec, that develops 3D scanners for the manufacturing industry, he soon realized the opportunity for using digital imaging technology for the human body and, more specifically, O&P.

“There was also a great need to make this technology accessible and truly user-friendly for orthotic and prosthetic professionals,” said Babin. “We also aim to make CAD-CAM for the human body incomparably easy while providing precise and consistent results.”

Born from this mindset is the MSoft software, which, according to TechMed 3D, can acquire and consolidate exact measurements of a scanned body part and help visualize the scan in real time. Videos on the website demonstrate this process: A structured, handheld BodyScan scanner is used to scan the body part, collecting details about its shape. The scanner automatically generates a 3D model in MSoft, which creates an STL file or any of a number of standard CAD-CAM file formats that are ready for modification and carving.

In keeping with the company’s goal of user-friendly service, TechMed 3D offers digital rectification software and a carver to complete the CAD-CAM system. These services are provided by Rodin4D, a Pessac, France-based company specializing in CAD-CAM products. TechMed 3D is the official North American provider of Rodin4D’s modification software and carvers.

The Rodin4D CAD-CAM software rectifies 3D digital forms for all types of orthopedic devices. The program provides more than 25 different tools for rectification, yet requires only two days of training.

The Rodin4D milling machine is designed to mill polyurethane foam blocks. While various models are for sale through TechMed, customers can also opt for the company’s carving service. Users email their scan file to TechMed 3D, where the polyurethane positive is carved and sent back, ready for modification or O&P fabrication.

“We’ve always promoted an open architecture so people can choose their system according to their needs—budget, philosophy, business model, etc,” Babin said. “In this era in which technology is developing so fast, we encourage customers who want to integrate CAD-CAM technologies to develop their own business model. Our role is to ensure that the acquisition phase is not an obstacle to the initiative’s success, and therefore we offer the greatest flexibility and compatibility to ensure the easiest
integration.”

Now, TechMed 3D is adding to its collection with a free iPad app. The app will function with a Structure sensor, a scanner that physically connects to mobile devices.

“This is going to be the game changer,” said Babin. “This scanning system will be very easy to use and much more affordable.” However, TechMed 3D was not ready to sacrifice quality, which is why the company programmed the app for use in combination with MSoft software, what Babin calls “the key to the system.”

“We see more and more low-cost scanning solutions appear on the market, but to guarantee a good scan and a great scanning experience, it’s all about the scanning software,” he said. The Structure sensor was developed by Occipital, a software start-up with offices in Boulder, CO, and San Francisco, and adapted by TechMed 3D for the human body—just as the BodyScan scanner was inspired by the industrial scanning technology at Creaform.

“We like to say that we build bridges between the CAD-CAM hardware technologies and the O&P market’s needs,” Babin said.

With a projected release date in early 2015, the iPad app is just one more step by TechMed 3D to ensure access and convenience for its customers.

“We are committed to providing the best and most user-friendly human body scanning system,” Babin said. “We are dedicated to innovation and proud to offer this groundbreaking solution.”

Samantha Rosenblum is a freelance writer in Boston, MA.

Article sponsored by TechMed 3D

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