How 3D printing is shaping a new era of personalized care


From insoles for foot pain to casts and splints, 3D printed devices are making one-size-fits-all healthcare a thing of the past.

Northampton, MA – News Direct – HP Inc.

3D printing improves healthcare in the field of orthotics, creating devices to help correct structural problems or provide support. ARIZE

By Jackie Snow

When you think of the possibilities that 3D printing brings to healthcare – things like bio-printed organs and a custom mix of drugs printed in a single pill – it seems straight out of science fiction.

Custom printed kidneys or personalized pills may not yet be available, but 3D printing is already improving people’s health care, especially in prosthetics and orthotics, body-worn devices for help correct structural problems or provide support. 3D printing gives healthcare professionals the ability to tailor these devices to each patient, improving comfort and experience.

“3D printing excels in personalization and personalization,” says Philipp Jung, global head of orthotics solutions at HP and general manager of Arize, HP’s new orthotics solution. “And there is nothing more personal than the human body.”

The market for personalized orthotics and prostheses and associated personalized health and wellness solutions is worth nearly $ 10 billion, according to an HP study. From prosthetic sockets and newborn helmets to fracture casts, the ability to create unique products at scale with 3D printing – also known as mass customization – is transforming healthcare. to be more precise, relevant and meet individual needs.

“3D printing has given us freedom of design and manufacture,” says Deepak Kalaskar, associate professor in the Department of Orthopedic and Musculoskeletal Sciences at University College London, with expertise in biomedical engineering. “We’re in the early days of 3D printing right now, but that’s not preventing anyone from thinking about how we’re going to use this revolutionary technology.

Pain relief through personalization

More than three-quarters of Americans will experience foot pain at some point in their lives, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. Arize Orthotic Solution, an end-to-end digital solution developed with HP technology, is designed to relieve some of that pain with custom, better-fitting, 3D-printed orthotics.

Using Arize, doctors can capture an image of a patient’s foot with a CT scan in as little as two minutes. From there, the software allows the doctor to review the scan of the foot, choose and customize an insole, and send the order to a 3D printing facility. When the insoles eventually wear out, or the patient wants a pair of orthotics for a different style of shoe, the same measurements can be used to rearrange, saving the patient another trip.

“It’s a more efficient process,” says Gavin Ripp, a podiatrist who uses Arize at Premier Podiatry & Orthopedics in the Sacramento, Calif. Area. “We are able to recover devices faster and they are easy to reproduce. “

The new process is not only more precise, it also results in a more discreet and less bulky device.

“Patients really like being able to put them in a wider variety of shoes than was possible before,” says Ripp.

Better fitting casts and splints

For injuries requiring immobilization of a body part, ActivArmor is the first and only supplier of 3D printed casts and splints, with products for the feet, ankles, legs, arms, hands , wrists and fingers. In addition to being custom-fitted, the casts are waterproof, breathable and hygienic so that the user can bathe as usual. The shell-like structure reveals the skin underneath without reducing strength and durability.

“In a traditional cast, you can only see both ends of the cast – everything inside, including movement, is hidden,” says Diana Hall, CEO of ActivArmor. “With ActivArmor, you can see and make adjustments throughout healing, which improves results.

Doctors use a free iPhone app to scan the affected body part for measurements and get a custom cast within days. It can be ordered locked for compliance, or easily removable as ordered by the physician.

ActivArmor recently launched a 3D printed walking boot, which is waterproof, lighter and more breathable than other orthopedic boots, with the advantage of being custom designed for each patient’s unique injury or condition.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for immobilization,” says Hall. “3D printing enables patient-specific medicine, with each device custom-designed and manufactured for a patient’s unique injury, treatment and lifestyle. “

A more comfortable device for growing babies

The malleability of a newborn’s skull means that the shape of an infant’s head is sometimes made uneven as it passes through the birth canal or can develop unbalanced changes by lying down for too long for a period of time. More than 3% of newborns have severe or very severe head deformity, and up to 50% have mild or moderate deformity. Doctors often turn to orthopedic treatment using a helmet to gently reshape the head.

Traditionally, these helmets were made by recreating the shape of the head carved out of foam and then building the device around it, a tedious process that only came close to a good fit. Health tech company Invent Medical devised a better solution, with a solution called Talee, a 3D printed cranial helmet that has already helped babies in 30 countries.

“3D printing represents the opportunity not only to change the product, but even the process of treating babies,” says Jiří Rosicky, CEO of Invent Medical.

HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing cuts the time it takes to create a helmet in half. The more breathable shape and the perforated structure can be made with a lighter material, making the helmet more comfortable for the baby, even in summer when parents may be tempted to take it off to help with the heat. Rosicky says that even offering a variety of colors has helped parents cope with societal pressure to attract unwanted attention to their babies.

“From the point of view of clinical specialists, aesthetics have a lower priority than function, but it’s very important for parents,” says Rosicky. “What you think of a product has to do with how accepted the treatment is, and if you’re more confident in the treatment process, that really helps. “

Customization of sockets for prosthetic limbs

After an accident in 2009 that resulted in the amputation of his legs, Chris Hutchison felt lucky to be alive. Adjusting to the prostheses he was using was additional stress in an already trying time. The socket that was the critical interface between her residual limb and the rest of the prosthesis had to be hand sculpted. Chris used a wheelchair when it took several trips over several weeks to find the right fit. Even then, the grip was uncomfortable and even painful at times.

Alan Hutchison, Chris’s father and trained engineer, wanted something better for his son. The father-son team started Prosfit in 2014, a company that uses HP’s Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing to make better-fitting bushings faster, so others don’t have to go through what Chris did. According to a World Health Organization report, more than 35 million people around the world need prosthetics or orthotics, but only one in ten has access or can afford the devices they need.

By digitizing the process of designing, fitting and manufacturing a prosthetic socket, ProsFit has reduced the time required to manufacture and deliver a socket from a few weeks to a few days, and with many fewer steps. , thus reducing costs and making the process more convenient for patients. Final sockets can now be fabricated and assembled in just two visits and cost 25% less than handmade sockets.

“Our vision is a world where innovation offers limb wearers a choice of affordable, reliable and desirable prosthetic products and services,” says Alan Hutchison. “Digital technologies, including 3D printing, make this possible. “

View additional media and more ESG stories from HP Inc. at

See the source version on