When I hear the name Bitonti, I immediately see 3D printing and high fashion intersecting. A name that continues to grow in terms of fashion and materials innovation, we’ve long been following Francis Bitonti and Studio Bitonti, who offer designs that disrupt not only conventional manufacturing ideals but also our thoughts on how elegant apparel and shoe designs should look and feel thanks to the benefits of 3D printing—even going so far as to incorporate the technology into a music video collaboration with the UK’s Feral Five.
As we’ve examined Bitonti’s goals further, we’re aware that while his name is now synonymous with some flashy 3D printed fashion, his goal—along with that of the team at his studio—is really to further modern product development, and he sees this evolving along with 3D printing. With all of that in mind, still I was jolted, pleasantly surprised, and incredibly inspired to see the studio’s name attached to the 3D printed scoliosis brace just being unveiled by UNYQ at a White House event hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and Office of Science and Technology Policy. This medical device was in fact a collaboration between the personalized orthotics and prosthetics manufacturer and Studio Bitonti, resulting in the UNYQ Align scoliosis brace and the personalized prosthetic cover bearing the name UNYQ Peformance.
And while we follow the most serious of breakthroughs in the medical field as they are relevant to 3D printing, this design truly has the potential to change the lives of millions in terms of more successful scoliosis treatments. Many are aware of the condition, but the challenges in trying to cure it are not so well-known. Surgery is available as a more extreme measure, but most of the time orthotics are prescribed and then made for the patient. The problem is that many find the braces uncomfortable and unwieldy, hard to wear with many types of clothing—and most of all, they can be completely embarrassing. With the idea that the braces are supposed to be worn nearly all the waking hours of the day, this obviously becomes an issue.
The 3D printed UNYQ Align brace solves the first problem beautifully. And of course, since Studio Bitonti was behind the design, we mean that literally. With the self-consciousness removed from wearing the orthotic, which fits easily under clothing with a ‘slim’ design and a choice of colors and patterns, next comes the truly amazing part. Making this orthotic a truly modern wearable, it is outfitted with sensors that not only keep track of how long the user has been wearing it, but pressure points are also monitored to allow for comfortable fit and functionality. Thanks to a mobile app, all of this information is captured and then made available to clinicians who can decide whether or not to adjust the personalized brace.
The UNYQ is only 3.5mm thick, breathable, and lightweight. And once again, 3D printing plays a large part in knocking tradition out of the way, offering the opportunity for those suffering from scoliosis to say goodbye to bulky, uncomfortable braces. It doesn’t hurt to have a talented fashion and product designer behind the construction either, and as Bitonti himself points out, these are types of projects that really benefit from those who can lend a hand both with talent and expertise in new technology such as digital design and 3D printing.
“It was a privilege to collaborate with UNYQ on this solution. These are the kinds of projects designers need to be paying very close attention to,” said Francis Bitonti, CEO of Studio Bitonti. “UNYQ Align demonstrates how innovative technologies, designers, and technologists can combine to revolutionize treatment of medical conditions and dramatically improve the lives of the people who rely on assistive devices.”
The 3D printed brace was modeled at the event by Grace Mosier, a 15-year-old girl with scoliosis. As teenagers are certainly one of the age groups most prone to self-consciousness, she was a perfect example to show off the stylish design, customized just for her, and allowing her to feel good about wearing the smart device for the recommended allotment of hours.
Also being shown off at the White House event was the Performance prosthetic cover. These are personalized for amputees (most especially, veterans), and as we’ve seen in multiple stories regarding the company and this product, the covers allow for both style and previously unprecedented authenticity in the wearing of a prosthetic device. For the White House event, a Performance cover was worn by retired US Marine Corps Sergeant Kyle Garcia, who lost his left leg during his third stint in Afghanistan.
“We are thrilled to have been invited to feature two of our products, UNYQ Performance and UNYQ Align, at the White House Event Celebrating Inclusive Design, Assistive Technology & Prosthetics,” said Eythor Bender, UNYQ CEO and Co-Founder. “I’m continually inspired by people who have overcome personal barriers, and am proud we have developed products that allow them more opportunities to do so.”
Garnering quite a high profile for these new innovations that will hopefully help those with scoliosis, as well as highlighting prosthetic covers, the event featured the fashion show displaying such new inventions, as well as remarks from officials in the administration, industry experts, and other designers. The UNYQ Align 3D printed brace is going to be available to a limited number of the ‘top clinics in the US’ as soon as October, according to the company. They will also be launching the Align mobile app in the spring of 2017. Would you like to receive updates? You can sign up for them at the UNYQ website. Discuss further in the 3D Printed Scoliosis Brace forum over at 3DPB.com.