Protosthetics and c2renew Partner to Create 3D Printing Filament for Definitive Prosthetic Sockets

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What makes 3D printing so interesting—and so downright fascinating—is that it allows individuals and companies of all sizes to create parts and objects that might not be possible at all otherwise. And although we have certainly seen a wide range of 3D printed prosthetics, often with accompanying and incredibly heartwarming stories, there is still much progress to be made in terms of accessibility and affordability for those in need around the globe.

Protosthetics and c2renew, both based in North Dakota, are paving the way for use of a proprietary new material for 3D printing definitive prosthetic sockets with strength and resolution not previously available. The filament will also be used for 3D printing orthotics, offering better comfort and quality of life to countless patients in the future.

Founders Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid have been deeply committed to the wonders of 3D printing, ever since they walked away from other ‘dream jobs’ and went into business together creating Protosthetics. Beginning with a laundry room for a warehouse and then moving on up to a church basement in Minnesota, the founders have now moved their official headquarters to Fargo, ND. There, they are responsible for creating, making, and distributing 3D printed prosthetics and orthotics.

“Today, Protosthetics is pioneering not only the orthotics and prosthetics industry through cutting edge products and services, but also pushing the limits of additive manufacturing (3D printing) itself,” Teigen told 3DPrint.com.

With the 3D printed devices being created in-house, they are able to act as an extension of the clinics they supply. Partnering with c2renew also means that they can be much more involved in the materials end. A market leader in eco-friendly polymer and bio-composite manufacturing technology, c2renew uses proprietary formulations to meet a wide range of engineering specifications. They are also responsible for designing biocomposite material compounds from agriculture byproducts and recycled plastics, as well as offering engineering services to their customers for designing a range of plastic composites.

Protosthetics was so impressed with c2renew’s work in polymer and bio-composite manufacturing that they asked if they would be interested in partnering to create a new filament for 3D printing prosthetics and orthotics. Teigen says that because c2renew was an industry leader in quality and had a dedication to minimal material waste, the Protosthetics team thought they would fit right in with their own company values. An added bonus was in being able to work with another company nearby; in fact, they are just a few miles apart.

“Having a top-tier innovative company like c2renew right down the street is incredibly valuable to our business,” says Teigen. “This new material is something that the market has been wanting for a while, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with a company like c2renew to be the ones to deliver it to our customers.”

Although we have followed many different 3D printed innovations in both prosthetics and orthotics, it is rare that sockets are mentioned, though there is work being done.

“You commonly hear of two types of sockets: check and definitive. Check sockets are meant for temporary use while definitive sockets are meant for long-term use and require increased time to be spent in the research and development phases,” Teigen told 3DPrint.com.

As the two companies began working on the new filament, they knew that creating a material for 3D printing definitive sockets was their goal. Avoiding the more common base polymers, the two teams came together in creating a combination of industrial polymers and unique strengthening fibers. With this filament, they are making a material offering new properties that will improve and increase safety, usability, and quality of life for patients.

The 3D printed Niagara foot prosthetic [Photo: Protosthetics]

“Partnering with the team at Protosthetics to help advance the great work they do by introducing a new material is great opportunity. It is also really exciting for us to bring things full circle with Protosthetics, as Cooper was one of our first interns,” says Corey Kratcha, c2renew’s Co-Founder and CEO.

The partnership has been a ‘tremendous addition’ to Protosthetics in terms of their manufacturing and services, allowing them to produce high-quality end products for the clinics they currently supply.

“This partnership opens up new doors to possibilities to greatly enhance the role of the practitioners we serve and improve patient care. With this new material, Protosthetics will possess the full suite of capabilities to deliver fully 3D printed definitive sockets to the market. 3D printing is an ever-advancing industry, and the demand for new solutions, materials and applications continues to grow as well,” Cooper Bierscheid, Protosthetics Co-Founder and Primary Engineer, told 3DPrint.com.

“The collaboration of these two organizations allows for continued innovation and improved patient care. The ability to 3D print definitive sockets will help advance the field of orthotics and prosthetics even further, and ultimately improve the lives of patients and the practitioners that serve them.”

Protosthetics will display their new 3D printing filament at the 2017 American Orthotics and Prosthetics Association (AOPA) tradeshow in Las Vegas in September. Discuss in the Prosthetics Filament forum at 3DPB.com.

The process at c2renew [Image: c2renew]

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