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Manufacture of Passive Dynamic Ankle–Foot Orthoses Using Selective Laser Sintering

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4 Author(s)

Ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) designs vary in size, shape, and functional characteristics depending on the desired clinical application. Passive Dynamic (PD) Response ankle-foot orthoses (PD-AFOs) constitute a design that seeks to improve walking ability for persons with various neuromuscular disorders by passively (like a spring) providing variable levels of support during the stance phase of gait. Current PD-AFO manufacturing technology is either labor intensive or not well suited for the detailed refinement of PD-AFO bending stiffness characteristics. The primary objective of this study was to explore the feasibility of using a rapid freeform prototyping technique, selective laser sintering (SLS), as a PD-AFO manufacturing process. Feasibility was determined by replicating the shape and functional characteristics of a carbon fiber AFO (CF-AFO). The study showed that a SLS-based framework is ideally suited for this application. A second objective was to determine the optimal SLS material for PD-AFOs to store and release elastic energy; considering minimizing energy dissipation through internal friction is a desired material characteristic. This study compared the mechanical damping of the CF-AFO to PD-AFOs manufactured by SLS using three different materials. Mechanical damping evaluation ranked the materials as Rilsantrade D80 (best), followed by DuraFormtrade PA and DuraFormtrade GF. In addition, Rilsantrade D80 was the only SLS material able to withstand large deformations.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering  (Volume:55 ,  Issue: 2 )