Orthotics are a great way to help patients correct body misalignments, relieve pain, and recover from injuries. But the highly customized devices take a long time to make and are often unpleasant to wear. An Austrian startup has found a way to solve these problems with a new material that makes orthotics more comfortable. They established a super-fast 3D DLP based printing process that delivers them to patients much sooner.
Luxinergy, created in 2019, is the brainchild of co-founders Thomas Griesser, a chemist and professor at Montanuniversitat in Leoben, Austria, and Thomas Rockenbauer, a mechanical engineer and researcher. While studying photoreactive systems for 3D printers, Griesser developed a resin that was very strong, but also biocompatible and ductile – an ideal combination for medical use. Rockenbauer built a fast 3D printer using two powerful UV Projectors from In-Vision light. The two joined forces with an orthotics producer to form Luxinergy, which plans to bring its first orthotic devices to market in 2022.
The Traditional Plaster Process
The traditional way of creating orthotics is to build a “negative” plaster mold on the patient’s body – an uncomfortable and time-consuming process.
The mold is then carefully removed and a plaster “positive” is cast. This is refined and covered with plastic material in a thermoforming process. The resulting plastic orthotic is further refined, sanded, and sent to the orthopedist, who fits it to the patient. The entire process can take several weeks.
A Better Way: Additive Manufacturing
By using computerized images, 3D printing eliminates the discomfort of time-consuming casts, but orthotics created in this way can be brittle. This is the problem Luxinergy has solved with its new biocompatible resin, which is durable, and ductile. Fabricators can vary the thickness and pliability within different areas during production, ensuring maximum patient comfort.
In addition, Luxinergy adds perforations to its orthotics to make them more breathable and reduce sweating. Patients – especially younger ones – wear their devices longer when they are more comfortable, speeding recovery. And because the orthotics are made of clear plastic, an orthopedist can easily spot any pressure marks on the skin.