People with flat feet often turn to custom foot orthoses (FOs), which can be fabricated using 3D printing and scanning technologies. Researchers from Taiwan recently conducted a study to evaluate the use of 3D printed FOs by people with flat feet. They 3D printed 18 FO samples and subjected them to human motion analysis, with 12 flatfooted individuals, as well as mechanical testing to determine maximum compressive load and stiffness. Researchers 3D scanned the participants’ feet and exported the result as an STL file, which was edited with Autodesk software and 3D printed out of PLA filament. Six 3D printed FOs for each build orientation were put through dynamic compression, and the team collected displacement and reaction force data.
The participants were also subjected to a motion capture experiment, with both kinematic and kinetic data were collected by a motion analysis system. They then performed an ANOVA test to compare the mechanical parameters of the FOs from each of the build orientations. The results showed that the 45 degrees build orientations made the strongest FOs. The study also demonstrated that the 3D printed FOs could alter the ankle joint movements during gait (manner of walking). 3D printing technology has the capability of fabrication custom FOs with sufficient support to correct foot abnormalities, such as flat feet. Such FOs can provide changes and positively influence individuals with flexible flatfoot.
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