February 2022

3D Printing Is Transformative

Rich Dubin, Publisher

Rich Dubin – Founder & Publisher

By Rich Dubin, Publisher and CEO

Three-dimensional (3D) printing is revolutionizing every field it has touched, and orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) is no different. From a business perspective, adjusting a long-standing workflow to incorporate new technology is always daunting. It can be difficult to imagine how it will change things and when the workflow is clinical, understanding how new technology will impact patient outcomes is critical. Doing your homework is invaluable—and you may not have to go far.

Tech manufacturers from around the globe are forging new partnerships with local businesses–and may be closer than you think.

I was recently asked to speak at a local event sponsored by PVA Med in Halfmoon, New York (population 24,500). PVA Med has a system for check socket fabrication that is easy and efficient. Check sockets for prosthetics are critical to successful patient outcomes. They allow prosthetists to make minute adjustments in the materials and fit of the prosthetic to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient. In the old days, it could take multiple tries to get all of the adjustments made correctly so the fit could be accurate to the residual limb and comfortable for the patient. This often took months. 3D printing is shortening that timeline to mere weeks. And that’s a better outcome—for both patients and your bottom line.

Patient Jim Drzymala (left) stands with his residual limb in the Symphonie Aqua System as the machine creates the digital scan (scan on the right).

The Digital Scan to 0-Ply Educational and Networking Event showcased new transformative digital solutions for prosthetic patient care in action.  After being welcomed by Tony Hynes, Founder and CEO, PVA Med, and Cissi Schaffer, Director of 3D Printing, PVA Med, event attendees were treated to a captivating presentation from Andreas and Simone Radspieler (the entrepreneurial couple behind Romedis GMBH) and Matt Doering of Cypress Adaptive (Navesink, New Jersey) on scanning and acquiring the shape with the Symphonie Aqua Digital solution [Romedis GMBH, Neubeuern, Germany].

The live demonstration of the Symphonie Aqua System in action—scanning a patient and integrated with the PVA Med Rapid Plaster and Emergence PRO 3D printer to create a check socket during the presentation—was the highlight of the event. The Symphonie Aqua System is a hydrostatic system, which utilizes magnetic field tracking (MFT), scans the residual limb in 3D under actual conditions bearing full weight to produce a properly fitting product. The Symphonie Aqua System does not require any external water or power to operate. The demonstration showed how simple the system is to operate and how the model can be modified for a better and more accurate fit using the Rapid Plaster software on a mobile tablet. Local clinicians who attended the event spoke to their experience with the system at their practice and how it greatly improved their efficiency and how they were impressed with the strength and reliability of the 3D printed check socket.

Samples of the Symphonie check socket product. Check sockets can be 3D printed in as little as 3–6 hours (left). The event was hosted by PVA Med at its state-of-the-art facility in Halfmoon, New York (right).

In addition to the demonstration, Hynes led a tour of PVA’s new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, the heart of which served as the stage for the demonstration. When the tour was complete, we were able to examine the finished WalkStrong Design product (PVA Med’s trademarked design). The newly printed check socket was then fitted and demonstrated by Jim Drzymala, a local patient volunteer. He demonstrated how flexible yet strong the socket was and described what he called the incredible fit and comfort of the 3D printed socket compared to casted products he had used in the past. After a brief Q and A, a networking event and dinner was held for all attendees.

Networking with this group of innovators, clinicians, and tech enthusiasts showed that 3D printing technologies keep improving and these types of events help to take the fear of adoption of these technologies out of the equation. These 3D digital scanning and printing technologies really are transformative: They do truly provide same-day accurate scanning, printing, and properly fitting check sockets. The transformation has arrived.

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