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Understanding PETG 3D Printed Prosthetic Check Sockets



It was 2017, and Filament Innovations had just started to gain traction in the hardware field. In deciding to focus on USA Built 3D Printers, we had to build printers that were tuned for a specific market, otherwise, we would just be building another 3D Printer. In search of what market made sense, we received a call from a pioneer in the Prosthetics and Orthotics field, Brent Wright. He asked "Have you ever considered making a machine with a large nozzle for the prosthetics industry?" And from there, the rest of it is history.


We worked closely with Dyze Design to help create the Typhoon High-Flow Filament extrusion system, this would allow us to run a 2.50mm nozzle that could be over-extruded to lay down a 4mm-6mm wide pass at 1mm layer height. We needed clear PETG to act as the suitable material for the clear check sockets, and I mean, we needed CLEAR material. Ordinary PETG filament available at the time would not cut it, and we know, because we tested all of it. We finally landed on a niche supplier of PETG that is the clearest material we have ever seen, and still use that same grade today. Finally, we needed a robust linear motion system as the typical "rubber band" looking 3D Printer belts would not cut it. This is why we still use enclosed ballscrews to this day.


The one interesting question we hear, and we hear this a lot, is "Why can't I use a cheaper machine, with a small nozzle, and wait longer for the socket to be done?" Well, that is a great question, and truth be told, there are a lot of valid reasons as to why you do not want to do that:

  • Nozzle Size: A smaller nozzle needs to do many passes to print the same object, creating numerous tiny passes in a horizontal plane. How do you know that there was not an extruder skip? How do you know those inside passes bonded properly? By using one large nozzle and one print pass, you eliminate those variables and create a stronger object.

  • Time: When you run a small business, time is money. Our ICARUS 3D Printer, which uses the Typhoon system, is designed to print a check socket in one to two hours, depending on the size of the print; whereas smaller nozzles could take up to 14 hours and print an inferior product.

  • Strength: High-Flow 3D Printed check sockets are strong. How strong do you ask? Just check out the recent scientific study done by Bionic Prosthetics and Orthotics where it is compared to laminated sockets.

  • Print Reliability: Shorter print times mean less time printing, and less chance of a print failure. By utilizing high-flow 3D Printing, like our ICARUS has, you greatly reduce the chance of a failed print by getting the print done faster.

  • Cost: It costs roughly $15 to print a prosthetic check socket using our high-grade of PETG. That is it, only $15.

Overall, our goal at Filament Innovations is to build the best USA Built 3D Printers possible. While our ICARUS is used in many different industries, it really shines in the Prosthetics and Orthotics industry.

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