Creating customized orthopedics products using Artec Eva

Perhaps in no other field does innovation matter more than in medicine. So, when a novel technique comes along, offering fitting solutions, professionals ought to embrace and build upon them.

Perhaps in no other field does innovation matter more than in medicine. So, when a novel technique comes along, offering fitting solutions, professionals ought to embrace and build upon them. For its part, Orthin Ltd. (part of Achilleon Zorg) has been championing use of 3D scanning technology in the field of orthopedics for nearly two decades.

Located in the Netherlands, Orthin creates impact where traditional methods have fallen short. In particular, they specialize in customizing a wide range of orthopedic products for their clients, from knee braces to orthopedic corsets for patients with scoliosis. In this field, ensuring precision is essential to fulfilling the medical needs of patients. After all, each person is unique, and their demands on their prosthetic and orthotic aids will, naturally, differ. Orthopedic technicians, like Karel Wilbrink from Orthin, fully acknowledge this and understand not only the value that precise measurements bring to business, but more importantly, the importance they hold for the well-being of their customers.

This is why Orthin has opted for state-of-the-art 3D scanners from Artec 3D.

“We now use the Artec Eva scanners and these devices help us to increase productivity by saving time”

Based in Luxembourg, Artec 3D has been a leading 3D scanning technology maker for years, helping a broad spectrum of industries enhance and optimize their design and production methods. And it does so by remarkable leaps and bounds.

Since its breakthrough into the 3D market, Artec 3D has grown to become synonymous with top-notch precision, high-res image output, and ease of use. It’s all the reason why Artec’s impressive line of hardware and software tools is sought out around the world. Throughout the years, users of Artec 3D scanners have come to rely on their intuitive design, portability, and ease of operation. It hardly matters whether you’re an experienced pro at Orthin or an experimenting beginner, Artec 3D solutions can be integrated seamlessly into any design and manufacturing context.

Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Orthin is excited to report that having used Artec’s Eva scanner, the company has performed an unbelievable feat of cutting time, labor, and costs in the design and manufacture of prosthetic aids by an astounding 90%!

Prior to Artec Eva’s arrival, Orthin used to employ a traditional plaster mold method when creating prosthetic and orthotic articles. The process involved multiple stages. First, technicians would “copy” a part of the patient’s body or his or her previous prosthetic aid using plaster. Second, tape measures and calipers helped with obtaining the object’s geometry – a rather time-consuming step that generated results which were mediocre, prone to errors, and lacking in accuracy. Finally, once recorded, the measurement data would be combined with two-dimensional drawings and photographs of the copied object. All in all, these data served to bring about form to the final product.

To Orthin’s delight, Artec Eva did away with all this! At the same time, it elevated the bar on quality of measurement and value of data.

To Orthin’s delight, Artec Eva did away with all this! At the same time, it elevated the bar on quality of measurement and value of data.

“We now use the Artec Eva scanners and these devices help us to increase productivity by saving time, lowering the time for processing the order and reduce the labor costs because scanning and creating a mold for production from the scan requires less labor than the traditional way of doing it,” Karel reports.

Orthin’s confident reliance on Artec Eva stems from two key benefits that effectively meet the needs of Orthin and its patients.

First, error minimization – by eliminating the ineffectual method of measuring by hand, technicians improve accuracy drastically. Also, technicians can dispose of their large range of measuring tools and devices. In their place, Artec Eva gives technicians a single, streamlined solution that tackles an array of problems through simple point and shoot. Artec Eva automates it all, capturing geometries at speeds of 16 fps and replicating them in high resolution images with brilliant colors and textures.

Second, portability – powerful but slim, Artec Eva weighs at just under 2 lbs. and is completely handheld. Tack on an Artec battery pack, and you can scan away without need of a nearby power source for up to 6 hours. Eva also boasts tablet compatibility, making it truly mobile. For Orthin, this translates into a huge advantage for customers. When unable to visit Orthin’s office, customers can elect to have the scan done in the comfort of their own home.

Karel details the way Orthin’s mode of operation has changed with Eva’s arrival.

“This is now the new way that we do our job: the client is scanned wherever this is needed. This can be done at every location possible, even at their home, and next to the scan, we list the individual wishes of the client. Back in the office, the raw data is saved on an internal server. Then it is saved as an stl-file. After that we use our orthopedic software to create a mold or the end-product can be milled or 3D-printed.”

Orthin also notes that scanning with Artec Eva requires virtually no direct physical contact with the individual patient – a stark contrast to Orthin’s bygone plaster method. Previously, creating molds with plaster was a slow and frequently messy undertaking. And the experience for the patient, in particular children, could also be “unpleasant, oppressive, and intimidating,” according to Karel. But now, “scanning our customers is clean, fast, and physical contact with the customer is a thing of the past.”

Once Orthin finishes scanning, its technicians run the gathered 3D images through the post-processing tools in Artec Studio.

Once Orthin finishes scanning, its technicians run the gathered 3D images through the post-processing tools in Artec Studio.

Here the amount of work depends on the user. With its autopilot function, Studio unburdens the user of having to figure out how to process the captured data. This makes the software ideally suited for newcomers. Alternatively, those with a bit more experience or a more adventurous spirit can exert full control and flexibility over post-processing by dipping into Studio’s optional advanced settings. In short, Studio is designed to give a full range of operations to suit the most and the least demanding of needs.

With expert technicians at Orthin and their more nuanced use of the software, their post-processing can involve multiple steps that Studio’s powerful yet flexible design smoothly facilitates, as Karel describes.

“We do all the steps necessary and align the different scans before we perform Global Registration. Then we do a Fusion depending on the demands we have. As patients do not always keep completely still during capture, we encounter a lot of variations in shape and scans do not always align properly. Here we have the option to perform a so-called non-rigid alignment where the second shape is made to fit the first shape. We also have the option to do the last fine tuning, using tools such as Defeature tool. The very last thing we do is use the Editor Positioning Tool to adjust the position of our orthosis or prosthesis to the world-zero point.”

True to its pioneering spirit, Orthin has taken its revolutionary 3D methods to a new height by using Eva to learn about stages of the orthopedic product’s development. Karel reports, “We are now able to compare the end-product with the original scan data to check and adjust the volume and shape. This check prevents mistakes and makes the work process self-learning.” Through reverse engineering, Orthin can evaluate the difference in measurements between the final product and the original scan, allowing for an even more accurate data set.

Word of Orthin’s innovative techniques has spread, Karel says.

“There are very positive reports from the field and that is primarily the patients. We receive applications for our products from all over the country. In addition, our 3D products receive a lot of praise from both orthopedics and rehabilitation doctors in the hospitals where we work. We are so esteemed for our knowledge and expertise in the 3D area that we have even been asked by the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) to develop an operation instrument for the reconstruction of cruciate ligaments together with the orthopedic department. We have now received a European subsidy for this innovation.”

Regardless of its already numerous achievements, Orthin is clearly showing no signs of ending its innovative streak in its application of Artec 3D solutions to orthopedics. Indeed, we may be seeing just the beginning…

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