The use of 3D printing in medicine paves the way for the development of new and innovative applications. The main advantage of this technology is the ability to offer personalized solutions tailored to the needs of each patient. This is of particular interest in the field of orthotics, where we are seeing increasing adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D scanning to develop unique orthotic insoles and solutions. One of the Spanish companies working in this area is Wypro. We interviewed his team to find out more about his work and his use of 3D technology.
3DN: Could you introduce yourself and talk about your connection to 3D technology?
I’m Dr. Pablo Marin, biomechanics podiatrist and CEO of Wypro. In 2019, together with Jorge Granell, a 3D mechanical engineer, we founded Wypro 3D Medical. We have formed a young interdisciplinary team consisting of a mechanical engineer, a biomedical engineer, a doctor, two orthopedists and an orthopedic technician, thus creating one of the first 3D design and printing units with in-house technological development in the field of orthopedics and orthopedics in Spain located on the Costa del Sol.
The creation of Wypro started the day Jorge Granell, a former national skater, visited my office. During one of his regular checks, we noticed the need to make orthotics that were precise enough to absorb all the energy of jumping and distribute plantar pressure in a variable density over skate-sized surfaces. Both of us, due to our passion for technology and research, started recruiting the whole team and the adventure began.
3DN: What is Wypro?
Wypro 3D Medical is a Malaga-based biomedical and engineering company specializing in the design and manufacture of orthopedic insoles using 3D technology. We have developed our own design software based on Rhinoceros and with automated elements using Grasshopper. One of the advances we bring to the industry is the point-based, data-driven variable density system offered by plantar pressure platforms. Using finite element calculations and only the colorimetry reports offered by these platforms, our script detects color differences and automatically applies a specific density based on the dynamic characteristics of each user’s footprint. In this way, we get a specific elastic response for each user, being able to apply specific protocols for athletes or pathologies, offering different response possibilities (for example, more traction in certain phases of walking or more dynamic amplitude for sports such as rowing or rowing). Athletics).
3DN: What is Wypro 3D Scan and what benefits does it offer?
Wypro 3D Scan is a 3D laser scanner for the podiatry and orthopedics sector that we developed in 2017. We have worked in a sector where traditional foam and plaster methods have been used to measure feet that are over 50 years old. Today, in less than a second and a half, we can get a file with all the measurements and structures of the foot in the form of a grid of 350,000 points, which automatically connects to our Cloud design platform and uploads files from anywhere in the world. .
The big advantage for the professional is that he can correct the foot and put it in a neutral position before the 3D scan and with controlled loading: this is a key factor because taking an impression is not the same as a weighted foot. body (closer to reality) than without.
The engineering team can then modify the scan to suit the design because many feet, such as rigid flat feet, are difficult to perform the arch correction technique due to their own sagging anatomy. Using traditional methods, we would have to grind positive plaster for hours by polishing and by eye. But what if the cast is lost or the patient needs an exact copy of the treatment after a few years? Thanks to our solution, we are able to offer replicas to customers all over the world.
3DN: What 3D printing method do you use to design your soles?
After testing several 3D printing technologies, we finally settled on selective laser sintering (SLS). This printing method allowed us to find the perfect balance between print speed and accuracy. The offer of 100% one-piece parts that meet the mechanical limitations of the foot (weight, deformation and fatigue) was one of the main selection criteria.
Thanks to a low power laser, the material is melted, resulting in parts that are very similar to injection molded parts with very good surface finishes. We are currently working with PA12 as the base material, which gives us the perfect balance between the flexibility the user needs for a comfortable sole and the stiffness needed to correct the biomechanics of the foot.
3DN: How do you see the future of 3D printing in this area?
3D printing, as in other areas, has become one of the most revolutionary advances in recent years. He was able to shorten the delivery time of the insoles, and in combination with personalized orthopedic insole design software, he was able to achieve a micron fit close to the user’s foot. In recent years, thanks to open source printers and new developments in various materials, industrial-level 3D printing has become democratized for start-ups and small companies that could not invest heavily in purchasing this type of rapid prototyping and small series machines.
Wypro is currently in the research and development phase with several different lines. On the one hand, the development of new specific materials for the manufacture of orthopedic insoles, in cooperation with a multinational company, we develop a resin with mechanical properties between polypropylene and TPU. On the other hand, we are starting to implement automatisms using machine learning to predict treatment and design biomechanical insoles based on the pathologies presented by the patient and the order form submitted by the professional, thus reducing design time and improving delivery times, a decisive factor for treatment.
Biomechanical insoles have changed a lot in recent years. Adjustment times are minimal and our patients’ quality of life improves exponentially with the use of Wypro 3D Medical insoles, which utilize finite element design, laser sintering and predictive design technologies. This allows you to get very short adaptation periods and adapt to any type of shoe.
3D printing technology has many little-known uses, such as developing treatments for podiatry. However, we have only discovered the tip of the iceberg, 3D printing still has a long way to go and many developments that we don’t know about yet. We can continue to use this versatile and efficient technology for manufacturing and prototyping in various fields and continue to improve people’s quality of life.
3DN: Last word for our readers?
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* All photos credited to Wypro