Five advantages of 3D scanning for orthotics

July 15, 2021


As technology has evolved for the creation of orthoses, so have the advantages increased. A digital workflow is replacing the traditional labor-heavy process. In this blog, we discuss 3D scanning and how it benefits the production of medical wearables for both practitioner and patient!


How does a 3D scanner work?

A 3D scanner is installed with specialized software that drives a laser probe. The laser probe streams laser light onto a surface while sensor cameras record the changing distance and shape of the laser light in three dimensions. That is how a 3D model is created.


The handheld 3D scanner only requires two to five minutes to precisely scan a body part. Compared to traditional casting, which takes up to 10 minutes and another 24 hours to harden, 3D scanning is executed in the blink of an eye.


When the 3D scan is complete and converted into a 3D model, it is ready for design automation software such as TwikFit, where further adjustments can be made. A few easy and quick steps result in a medical wearable with a perfect fit made of advanced materials.


Benefits of using 3D scanning instead of traditional methods

Cost and pricing

Cost and pricing are decisive benefits of 3D scanning. Orthoses made the traditional way cost more due to the materials used and hours of manual labor.


A mold made by casting can cost the end-consumer between $27.94 to $49.60, while a scan only costs $3.30 to $10. On top of that is 3D scanning, a labor-reductive process that eliminates and shortens many steps in the process of creating made-to-fit medical wearables. And as we all know, time is money.


Digitizing the process is also a vital factor in decreasing overall costs. It allows for a digital warehouse of 3D scans. Files are transmitted to labs and manufacturing facilities within seconds, while a physical mold requires days to be shipped by mail.


While we are on the topic of production efficiency, using the 3D scan allows the treatment of a large number of patients within a smaller timeframe with the same (or even more) precision. Medical professionals who use 3D scanning as a method are able to increase their patient intake without sacrificing product quality and patient healing.


The creation of pressure maps

Medical wearables such as insoles can be created more efficiently with 3D scanning. A foot, for example, presents a different geometry when supporting body weight or not. When standing upright, you make pressure points on the bottom of your feet. These points decide the shape of the insole. By using 3D scanning, the pressure map is easily extracted from the patient.


(Almost) errorless

By digitally taking measurements and pressure maps, medical professionals are avoiding the risk of errors. Not only is the 3D scanning technology precise, but a digital file cannot physically be broken. Plaster cast can be crushed in boxes while shipping, lost, delayed, or thrown out. By implementing 3D scans, the process of creating custom-fit medical wearables is less prone to errors. It is a smoother procedure for both practitioner and patient.


Digital warehouse

The digital warehouse has more advantages than saving time and money due to no shipping required. By using 3D scanning and storing files of body parts digitally, they can be retrieved at any time. No new 3D scan is necessary when the patient requires new orthotics, as it would be with plaster casts. It enables continuity of care for each patient and increases efficiency for the practitioner.


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