One of the field where the 3D printing has given its best results, and where promising developments are going so far to be imagined in a near future, is the medical field
In 2014 Lelio Leoncini, a doctor specialized in Physical Medicine and Physical Therapy, from Acquaviva delle Fonti (Ba), Medical Director of the Medical Center "Sanatrix" in Rionero in Vulture (Potenza), has started to test the 3D printers using a DeltaWASP 40 70 to realize orthopedic corsets. Now Leoncini joins WASPmedical, a group committed to the research and whose aim is to improve health and wellness.
"From an orthopedic and scientific point of view, the 3D printing allows to perform on scoliosis in a a more efficient and effective way than the handmade production" he explains. -. "Through the virtual project, you find out how a scoliosis will develop; the production costs decrease considerably; you don't have the problem to clear out the materials and you speed up production: a technician can hand-make a couple of corsets a day; using the 3D printing you can double the quantity and with a better quality." In addition, the resulting product is particularly effective: "It is much more anatomical, it does not annoy the patient who, consequently, can wear it for a longer time; then allocating uniformly the loads, it acts in harmonic way then, last but not least, it looks nicer".
From the plaster cast to the Shogun fiber
Leoncini's research starts from the bottom, from the several needs of doctors, orthopedic technicians and from patients (from the youngest to the oldest) and from the examination of the critical and restrictive actual systems; all problems that can be solved using new technology and sparing money too. A corset construction has always been a difficult process because it's full of scientific disputes. "This is one of the reasons why many accomplished schools of thought exist" he explains -. "It is fundamental to overtake the plaster cast technique, and get a precise body-model realized with scanner – this allows to shape it in a very precise way, giving advantages not only to the operators but specially to the patients. Using this new technique I have been able to achieve a very high level of precision, for example you can make amendments and revisions of the model, thing which would be impossible using the traditional and more common technique of the plaster cast."
The last series of corsets has been realized using a new fiber: the Shogun fiber, which resists to high temperatures. It does not present the PLA problem of thermo-frailty, preserving the possibility to be thermo-shaped more than once; besides it has physical characteristics similar to the polyethylene commonly used for corsets. "There should be more other fibers to be tested" the doctor continues -. A wide range of new fibers for medical-use is now spreading but we need to test each of them according to the several applications; Actually the Shogun from TreeDFilaments is perfect for corsets."