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Humans today may be living longer than ever, but that doesn’t mean that every part of the body stays healthy for 80 or 90 years. The knee, in particular, has a healthy life expectancy of about 50 years. It’s one of the most short-lived hinge joints in the human anatomy, and it’s asked to do so much, transporting us everywhere we go and bearing our weight. When the knee goes bad, our mobility is greatly reduced, which is why so many people end up having knee surgery and even knee replacement later in life.

When the knee is damaged or has just been through surgery, it needs some extra help in the form of a brace. Sichuan Ju An Hui of China created a brace called the BioNEEK, a passive bionic exoskeleton brace that enhances support, reduces impact, improves stability and protects the knee as it recovers. A magnetorheological damper acts like a shock absorption system, reducing impact on the knee while improving the wearer’s endurance and mobility.

The BioNEEK features an adjustable hinge that prevents hyperextension, relieving pain and speeding recovery. The hinge tracks the wearer’s natural knee movement, maintaining support and providing lateral stability to the joint while aiding in movement.

The BioNEEK is 3D printed from durable, high-performance PEEK material, for which Sichuan Ju An Hui turned to INTAMSYS, a fellow Chinese company that specializes in such functional 3D printed materials. INTAMSYS 3D printed the BIONEEK brace on the FUNMAT PRO HT, the company’s most advanced 3D printer, which is capable of efficiently printing large-sized PEEK parts. 3D printing was the ideal technology for the brace, which features a complex geometry and needs to be customized individually for each patient.

The mechanical properties of the parts 3D printed on the FUNMAT PRO HT can achieve 99.9 MPa in tensile strength and 3738 MPa in Young’s Modulus. The strength of PEEK creates reliable protection for the knee, and a layer of foam padding is added for comfort.

“With the outstanding mechanical strength and stiffness of PEEK coupled with the reliability of INTAMSYS 3D printing solution, Sichuan Ju An Hui is now able to swiftly customize according to customers’ sizes and produce BioNEEK that fit comfortably on the knees of each customer while delivering the industry-leading level of protection, made possible by 3D printed PEEK,” said INTAMSYS CEO Charles Han.

The FUNMAT PRO HT is INTAMSYS’ largest 3D printer so far, and can print with a wide variety of high-performance materials in addition to PEEK, including ULTEM, PPSU, PA/CF, PC, PC alloys, PA, ABS, carbon fiber-filled, fiberglass-filled, metal-filled, ASA, PETG, ESD-Safe, HIPS, TPU, PLA, PVA, and more. It’s a versatile 3D printer, with an open material system, and it addresses common issues associated with high temperature 3D printing, such as warping and cracking, with a heated build chamber and heated build plate. It makes sense to turn to this particular 3D printer for something like a knee brace, which needs to be strong, durable, and comfortable all at the same time.

INTAMSYS will be showcasing its 3D printers, along with the BioNEEK knee brace, this week at RAPID + TCT. Stop by and see what the company has to offer at Booth #842.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: INTAMSYS]

 

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