Release Date: 
Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - 13:45
Media File: 

A Leg that Fits: Making Natasha's 3D-Printed Prosthetic in Two Weeks

In the Internet Age, you can search online, find something you like, and make it your own. In the emerging era of customized 3D printing, these possibilities expand in fantastic ways, as demonstrated by Natasha, who has taken personal design assimilation literally. With the help of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, NovaCAD Systems, Think Robot Studios, and artist Melissa Ng, Natasha took a pattern she liked and made it part of her: more specifically as a prosthetic leg after losing own below the knee in a car accident in 2013.

For as long as humans have been using prosthetics, we have been able to rehabilitate functionally, but this step forward in accessible and customizable design eases the accompanying and inevitable aesthetic transition. Through personalized design and manufacture, prosthetics must no longer be so foreign, and can instead incorporate art and design for new opportunities in self-expression. Cases like Natasha’s reveal that more is possible.

From start to finish, the process of creating Natasha’s new leg took just two weeks. This included the 3D scanning, accuracy checks and balances, and CAD file preparation before the physical production, assembly and fitting. In this short span of time, Natasha had a functional figurative sculpture that not only filled the negative space of her body, but that complimented her personality through design. Natasha’s leg was printed on a ProJet® 7000 SLA 3D printer by 3D Systems.

For more on the design process and Natasha’s reaction to her new limb, check out the video below.

Good design is its own reward, but official recognition is certainly icing on the cake. 3D Systems is proud to share that our Bespoke design innovations for the Ekso Bionics Exoskeleton received bronze in the Social Impact category of the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) from the IDSA and Core77, while Bespoke Braces received honorable mention.

The suit is the first-ever 3D printed hybrid robotic exoskeleton, created by 3D Systems’ designers Scott Summit and Gustavo Fricke in collaboration with Ekso Bionics. Using 3D scanning to generate a personalized 3D model of patient Amanda Boxtel’s unique shape, Summit and Fricke crafted a 3D design to custom fit her while seamlessly incorporating the electronics needed to help her walk. Witness Amanda’s exoskeleton in action here.

Bespoke Braces for the hand and wrist enable the automated scanning of limbs to create custom 3D printed braces using 3D Systems’ SLS technologies. The braces can be shipped to patients within a matter of days. Andy Miller, Andrew Zukoski and Gustavo Fricke were the lead designers around the technology of this innovation.

Read more here.


Being a teenager isn’t easy, and it doesn’t get any easier for teens with medical conditions like spinal scoliosis. Defined as a lateral or rotational curvature of the spine that initially appears in children during the prepubescent ages of 8-13, spinal scoliosis currently affects nearly 7 million Americans, 90% being female.

Many treatments involve cumbersome braces that are difficult to get on and uncomfortable to wear, yet sticking to a brace-wearing regimen is critical to treatment of the condition. For Meredith, an exuberant 13-year-old scoliosis patient, the experience of spinal correction was bulky and inelegant. Her father hoped she could find a better solution, and that’s where the Bespoke team of 3D Systems stepped in with a custom solution that merged design with function.

Each Bespoke brace is fitted to each specific patient and 3D printed in porous patterns that breathe easily, reducing weight, cost and discomfort, and which allow patients to give an aesthetic to their healing. According to Meredith, her new brace “has really changed how I view myself, and how other kids see me. My good friends, who know that I have scoliosis, think my brace is cool. Everybody else doesn’t even know that I’m wearing it because the design makes it invisible even under a shirt.”

To read more about how good design is changing medical outcomes and perspectives, read the full story here

3D Systems new Bespoke Modeling service, a cloud-based 3D medical modeling application, continues to break new ground in patient education and communication.  Dr. Howard Goodman read about the new service on the web and realized that the ability to print 3D models directly from DICOM data would be very useful for an upcoming case.  In this case, his patient had two grapefruit-sized calcified tumors located on his pelvis bone. The surgery involved would be long and complex, and the CT scan display on the monitor just didn’t communicate the case very well. 

(Image above: the CT scan data visualized in the Bespoke Modeling system)

Dr. Goodman is chief of musculoskeletal oncology at Maimonides Bone and Joint Center in Brooklyn, NY. He is an orthopaedist specially trained in taking care of benign and malignant bone and soft tissue tumors in both children and adults.

Bespoke Modeling is an online, easy-to-use service by 3D Systems that allows the rapid and immediate upload of CT scan data from which completed 3D models are quickly and accurately created, and can be exported for local printing or printed using the cloud and shipped directly to your door.

(Image above: Resizing and handling the data is easy within the Bespoke Modeling online system, and ordering a print on the cloud is simple, fast and effective.)

Dr. Goodman uploaded his DICOM data to Bespoke Modeling and with a few button clicks created a 3D color bone model that was ready to print. At this point, the data can be downloaded for local printing or can be printed through the Bespoke Modeling service and shipped. Dr. Goodman opted for cloud-printing his data. Using the interface inside Bespoke Modeling, he tested different sizes of model in ‘Print Preview’, using a slider-bar that resizes the model and automatically updates the cost to print. Since this was a purely educational & communication tool, Dr. Goodman opted for a 50% scale model that cost $169. Selecting the ‘Cloud Print’ button, Dr. Goodman completed his shipping and billing information and ordered the model.

(Image above: demonstrating the procedure using precise bone models based on CT scan data helps increase patient communication and understanding.)

“Besides the obvious advantage of having a physical model to take us a step beyond a patient's abstract imaging, I found the 3D model invaluable in patient education, surgical planning, and physician training. Having the model in the operating room allowed us a more thorough understanding of the tumor and its proximity to other vital structures” said Dr. Goodman. 

You can find out more about Bespoke Modeling here.

On December 1st, 3D Systems exhibited at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) 99th Scientific and Annual meeting, highlighting our newly introduced Bespoke Modeling and x60 series 3D printers, as well as Vidar Digitizers. Bespoke Modeling is a cloud-based, easy-to-use, affordable service that allows medical professionals to quickly create, view, share and 3D print full-color 3D anatomical models directly from DICOM data. At the booth we created 3D printed models using the Bespoke Modeling web application and printed those models live on the ProJet® 460 Plus 3D color printer. (Image left: Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer with a mummified eagle.)

Special guest Rozenn Bailleul-LeSuer was on hand in the 3D Systems booth. Bailleul-LeSuer, a PhD candidate in Egyptology in the NELC Department of the University of Chicago and guest curator at the Oriental Institute, brought with her an ancient Egyptian mummified eagle. The mummified bird was CT scanned, and models of the bird and its bones were printed live as well.

Click here for more information on Bespoke modeling. 

3D Systems attended the 95th annual conference for the American Association of Oral Maxillofacial Surgeons in Orlando, Fla., this month and demonstrated Bespoke Modeling, a brand new, cloud-based, full-color 3D medical modeling application, along with a ProJet 460Plus 3D color printer. At the booth we created 3D-printed bone models from DICOM data, using Bespoke Modeling, and printed them on site to show how easy and fast it is to create and print custom bone models. These models have the same look and sensation, when drilling, sawing and inserting screws, as human bone.

Dr. Gary Orentlicher, an oral surgeon from Scarsdale, N.Y., was impressed by what he saw and acknowledged that 3D-printed bone model would assist him with a patient requiring a mandible asymmetric osteotomy. “The application (Bespoke Modeling) was as easy to use as I saw in the demonstration. I was able to upload the DICOM data, then create and order the model in less than 10 minutes. And that was the first time I used the application,” he said. “The printed model looks incredibly realistic. It helped me explain the procedure to the patient and also let me visualize the precise movement, cuts and positioning of the surgery.” (See images left: 3D patient model in Bespoke Modeling (above), 3D-printed model (below))

Click here for more information about Bespoke Modeling. Sign up for Bespoke Modeling through October and you'll receive two free hours of modeling time. 


Subscribe to RSS - Bespoke Modeling