An Exceptional 3D-Printed Prosthesis
There are certain applications of our 3D printers that inspire us and give our work meaning. Marco Avaro’s smile, the enthusiasm he exudes, and his desire to develop technology to make others’ lives better, have brightened our days. We are very fortunate to collaborate with Marco in his work. We discovered that it is now possible to create a high-quality, orthopedic prosthesis rapidly, thanks to 3D printing technology. This Friulian biomedical engineer has demonstrated that with a brand-new DeltaWASP 20 40, he is already able to make two prostheses a day.
Avaro bought a Delta 20 40 and was immediately pleased. The revelation that he could print a prosthesis socket of an excellent quality, was the turning point for Avaro. In his own words, “The printer made the difference. It enabled me to fabricate large pieces, even those larger than 40 centimeters, with just one print. The quality is so high, that it does not need to be treated before millwork. The printer is fast and the design of the printer allows me to consistently produce even exceedingly thin surfaces. The advantages are many. If you take degenerative diseases, for example, the geometries become particularly difficult since there are many asymmetries. Nonetheless, with this technology it is possible to treat a wide range of cases without any difficulties.”
Since November 2014, when Avaro bought the DeltaWASP, he has fabricated thirty prostheses. “Just to be clear,” says the engineer, “”I haven’t invented anything. I just applied the 3D printing technology. It is the printer that provides the practically perfect quality of the products. And it is very competitively priced, as well.”
As Avaro stated above, the volume of the printer is definitely ample and permits the production of a socket that is both durable and light. This results from strong cohesion between print layers. This also translates into a number of other advantages. “This allows me to print hollow sockets, without having to worry about the acrylic resin filling the interior of the print,” explains Avaro, “Furthermore, there isn’t deformation while the prints are processed.”
FEM (finite element method) modeling has revealed that the forces between technical materials (such as the resin or carbon fiber that Avaro also uses in his prostheses*) are spread evenly, something that becomes impossible if the acrylic resin spills into the prosthesis’ interior. The infiltration of the resin causes irregular variations in the rigidity, such that the prosthesis can be structurally compromised and fare poorly when exposed to cycles of alternating load (fatigue, or more simply put, continued usage.)
“The prints made with the DeltaWASP 2040 have brilliantly exceeded the mechanical and computational tests [I’ve subjected it to.] This provides the opportunity to make a structure that is strong and considerably lighter,” tells Avaro.
If that’s not enough, there are also advantages from an aesthetic perspective, an aspect which is fundamentally important for the people who rely on it daily. It is possible to polish the prosthesis until it shines like a mirror, using particular resins and lacquers. Additionally, since each prosthesis is custom-made, they are more comfortable to wear.
“The machine is fast,” reaffirms Avaro, “For a tibial prosthesis, it previously took me eight hours, and now it doesn’t even take two. I create prostheses for mountain climbers and cross country runners. And I’m always greeted with an immense thankfulness. When I finish the prosthesis, I deliver them and there is never a need to make any corrections. The clients’ physical therapists are amazed by what we do. In conclusion: my collaboration with WASP has changed my life.”
The Del Bene orthopedic lab is situated on Rossetti Street, Trieste.
The prosthesis production center is located in Azzano Decimo (Pordenone).
WASP is located in Massa Lombarda (Ravenna)