3D Printing and the medical application: Lelio Leoncini’s amazing creations using WASP 3D printers
One of the field where the 3D printing has given its best results, and where promising developments are going so far to be imagined in a near future, is the medical field and in particular Orthopedic. Scoliosis is a widespread disease but it is so difficult to treat that it often impose the use of uncomfortable and expensive orthopedic corsets. In 2014 Lelio Leoncini, a doctor specialized in Physical Medicine and Physical Therapy, from Acquaviva delle Fonti (Ba), Medical Director of the Medical Center”Sanatrix” in Rionero in Vulture (Potenza), has started to test the 3D printers using a DeltaWASP 40 70 to realize orthopedic corsets. Now Leoncini joins WASPmedical, a group committed to the research and whose aim is to improve health and wellness.
“From an orthopedic and scientific point of view, the 3D printing allows to perform on scoliosis in a a more efficient and effective way than the handmade production” he explains. -. “Through the virtual project, you find out how a scoliosis will develop; the production costs decrease considerably; you don’t have the problem to clear out the materials and you speed up production: a technician can hand-make a couple of corsets a day; using the 3D printing you can double the quantity and with a better quality.”
In addition, the resulting product is particularly effective: “It is much more anatomical, it does not annoy the patient who, consequently, can wear it for a longer time; then allocating uniformly the loads, it acts in harmonic way then, last but not least, it looks nicer”.
From the plaster cast to the Shogun Filament
Doctor Leoncini’s research starts from the bottom, from the several needs of doctors, orthopedic technicians and from patients (from the youngest to the oldest) and from the examination of the critical and restrictive actual systems; all problems that can be solved using new technology and sparing money too“. A corset construction has always been a difficult process because it’s full of scientific disputes. “This is one of the reasons why many accomplished schools of thought exist” he explains -. “It is fundamental to overtake the plaster cast technique, and get a precise body-model realized with scanner – this allows to shape it in a very precise way, giving advantages not only to the operators but specially to the patients. Using this new technique I have been able to achieve a very high level of precision, for example you can make amendments and revisions of the model, thing which would be impossible using the traditional and more common technique of the plaster cast.”.
The last series of corsets has been realized using a new fiber: the Shogun Filament, which resists to high temperatures. It does not present the PLA problem of thermo-frailty, preserving the possibility to be thermo-shaped more than once; besides it has physical characteristics similar to the polyethylene commonly used for corsets. “There should be more other fibers to be tested“ the doctor continues -. A wide range of new fibers for medical-use is now spreading but we need to test each of them according to the several applications; Actually the Shogun from TreeDFilaments is perfect for corsets.”
The corsets realized in the last months
– The modified Cheneau Model
It has a punched weave where the corset is not often mechanically solicited, on the contrary the areas of the underarm hold and of the pelvis, are compact to support the bigger pressure. Two kinds of weaves have been realized: the first (smile shaped) is suitable for 3D printing and for a balanced strength distribution, the second is grasshopper which allows a quicker and more precise printing and the realization of a lighter and more resistant corset.
– Esoskeletal Corset
Due to the particular “underarm and pelvis holds” it allows to obtain an anti-gravitation effect on the spinal column, that’s why it is suitable in cases of advanced osteoporosis with vertebral collapse or after a surgeon intervention on the backbone where it is necessary a period of unload on the vertebral column. The same kind of corset can be used also in cases of iper-cifosis in the evolutionary age, changing in the modeling-phase some strength-vectors.
– Chair Corset
Realized against body and pelvis acquisition while sitting using ring sensors actually realized by WASP. Studied on purpose for serious scoliosis which forces to remain sitting and in cases of posture disabilities.
It has been realized a very simple structure: a structure which allows an under-load foot 360 degree acquisition. This is a fundamental aspect because a no-load acquisition would produce a model which does not correspond to the morphological and functional foot-change. Orthopedic insoles: Insole printed in TPE plus stirene, Printing of the positive foot model, Proper receptive orthopedic insoles.
It is suitable to be used with classical materials. In short a special antibacterial fiber will be available, Characteristic which is not present in normal and more common materials.
Some insoles, like those for diabetics require the use of some special materials, therefore it’s possible to print the patient foot on which thermo-shape the materials.
Wrist and forearm with a prevent-accident-fiber, realized with Grassopher.