RESOURCE-EFFICIENT PROCESS CHAINS TO MANUFACTURE PATIENT-SPECIFIC PROSTHETIC FINGERS
Keywords:Additive Manufacturing, Prosthetic Fingers, SLA, FDM, 3DP
The high cost of quality prostheses, together with the lack of trained prosthetists, makes it challenging to obtain prosthetic devices in developing communities. Modern 3D digitising techniques and additive manufacturing (AM) technologies are gaining popularity in the bio-medical industry and, in the case of prosthesis production, reduce the need for a trained prosthetist. The objective of this research was to develop a new resource-efficient process chain for the manufacturing of prosthetic fingers using additive manufacturing technologies, and to compare it with the traditional (Sculptor) process chain. Fused deposition modelling (FDM), open-source FDM, 3-dimensional printing (3DP), and stereolithography (SLA) were evaluated in terms of their costs, time, material usage, and aesthetic quality. The surface qualities produced with the different additive manufacturing technologies were also compared. The results showed that 3DP was the preferred technology and was the best candidate for the production of prosthesis in terms of cost, quality, and time for developing communities. SLA produced the highest aesthetic quality prosthesis, but was the most expensive. It was concluded that using the additive manufacturing technology process chain to produce prosthetic fingers is faster and more cost effective than the traditional method.
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