CONFERENCE COVERAGE: Orthotics Technology Forum 2012
Orthotic laboratory managers, CAD-CAM technology experts, and lower extremity practitioners convened in Manchester, UK, in July to share ideas and experiences related to the automated design and manufacture of foot orthotic devices.
By Jordana Bieze Foster
Sponsored by an educational grant from…
Foot orthotic laboratories have long been the principal players in the computer aided design and computer aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM) of foot orthoses. But practitioners are gradually starting to play a bigger role in the process—a development that dramatically enhances the potential for clinical creativity but also introduces an extra element of uncertainty.
Computer aided manufacturing is anything but a one-size-fits-all proposition. Customers have a range of variables to choose from, and making the right decision in most cases depends on knowing what type of orthotic material the machine will be asked to handle.
The use of technology to improve orthotic design is not limited to CAD-CAM applications, as demonstrated by University of Salford researchers in two presentations at the Orthotics Technology Forum.
The fledgling field of additive manufacturing is still somewhat fragmented, as evidenced by the fact that the same technology can be described as rapid prototyping or 3D printing. But additive manufacturing’s profile is definitely on the rise, and its advocates are optimistic that lower extremity clinical applications are right around the corner.