Frequently Asked Questions

Are 3D printed check sockets safe for static and dynamic fittings?

Yes. In fact, many of our customers routinely walk patients in the office without reinforcing the 3D printed check socket at all. Their confidence is a direct result of the PVA Med patent pending WalkStrong™ check socket design that is reinforced in areas where traditionally 3D printed check socket failed. Based on customer feedback of 2,000 WalkStrong sockets printed then fitted, the incidence of breakage of 3D printed check sockets was .98% vs. 1.01% for traditionally pulled check sockets of the same sample size. None of the breaks for the 3D printed socket were at the distal transition.

How do I know that if I buy a printer today, it won't be obsolete in a year or two?

The Emergence PRO™ printers, like the other capital equipment that PVA manufactures, are designed, and built to run in 24x7x365 environments and last for years/decades. In fact, there are PVA 1000 machines that are over 20 years old and still used by PVA customers today, daily. Though PVA coating and dispensing machines built today look and operate differently than the PVA 1000s of the past, they in no way make their predecessors obsolete. The Emergence PRO™ V1 and V2 printers are every bit as valuable as the day they were purchased and will run for years into the future. The Emergence PRO™ printers, for most clinics, have a payback period of less than 2 years based on savings realized, so they are paid off before they become “obsolete.”

What are the biggest upgrades in the V3 and why do they matter?

The V3 upgrades are focused on faster prints, ease of use, and maintainability. The print times on the V3 are up to three times faster than the print times on the V2. Features like automatic bed leveling make setup and printing easy. The optical filament sensor is solid state (i.e., no moving parts), removing friction from the print path and reducing filament flow issues. Filament tensions presets makes it a snap to ensure your extruder has the right tension for the specific filament and flow rates. The induction probe is also solid state, removing wear failures from moving parts on probes. The hot-end cooling fan is on only when needed, extending the life of this crucial part.

What makes the PVA Med Emergence PRO™ solution better than other 3D printing options?

The PVA Med Emergence PRO™ printer was designed based on the insights gained from 3D printing thousands of check sockets on the Emergence PRO™ platform to date. These insights include feedback from our customers and their patients. The PVA Med Emergence PRO™ is the only commercially available platform to come with all solution components pre-integrated making it easy to scan, design, and 3D print high quality check sockets right out of the box. Training and support for the entire check socket workflow is included for the life of the equipment. In addition, the Emergence PRO™ platform is open which means other standards-based software and hardware components can be incorporated into the workflow.

I have heard from others that they had a bad experience with 3D printing, why will my experience be any different?

3D printing check sockets is a daily occurrence here in the US prosthetic market. Those doing it successfully either figured it out on their own through extensive trial and error or partnered with others that had already figured it out. For those who tried to figure it out on their own, many unfortunately ran out of patience before realizing the results they’re seeking. For those, their 3D printing experience was a major let down. Those that follow the advice of others successfully 3D printing check sockets, realize results that are predictable, repeatable, and every bit as reliable as plaster and pulled plastic.

I see value in 3D printing check sockets, but we are too busy to contemplate the introduction of new technology into our practice currently.

Solution-level training and support makes getting started fast and straightforward. Training options include live, instructor-led training and online self-paced training to make it easy to get practitioners trained quickly. Many practices have been able to deploy the PVA Med 3D Solution and become proficient within days of receiving their training, all with minimal disruption to the practice.

How does one go from a 3D printed check socket whose shape and volume have been verified through a dynamic fitting with a patient to a definitive socket?

There are several paths to get from a fitted check socket to a definitive socket. Here are some of the paths we have seen used:

  • Fill check socket with plaster to create a lamination mold
  • Laminate over the check socket – incorporate check socket into the definitive
  • Use positive model to carve a lamination mold
  • Use digital model to send to CFab for traditional fabrication
  • Use digital model to 3D print a definitive (i.e. MFJ)
Why would I 3D print a check socket that takes more than 30 minutes to print when I can pull a check socket quickly?

The primary reason is efficiency. The level of effort to cast the patient, mix then pour plaster to fit the cast, remove from cast, then modify plaster model is significant relative to scanning to acquire the shape of the patient’s limb then modifying digitally. The plaster approach to check sockets can require 2-3 hours of labor vs the digital approach which typically requires 15-30 minutes. Once the print starts, little labor is required to fabricate the check socket. Post-processing effort for 3D printed check sockets is similar to plaster-based fabrications (grind trim lines, drill holes, attach components, etc.).

What is wrong with buying a 3D printer and figuring this out on our own?

This approach can work for those with ample spare time and strong interest in tinkering with things. We have found that many lose interest before they are able to come up with a solution that produces the results needed. Others underestimate the effort to select the components necessary and then integrate them to work well together. Support can be difficult to manage leaving users with the need to identify which component(s) are causing the issue then work with their supplier(s) to resolve. This is why PVA Med provides a fully integrated solution and we provide support for the lifetime of the device.

What is the best way to get started with 3D printing check sockets?

We recommend that each practice start by learning to scan. This does not require a large investment and is the first step in the workflow digital fabrication of check sockets. For a little over a thousand dollars, it is possible to obtain a scanner and app that can be used to get high quality scans that can be then be used to design high quality check sockets, all without plaster dust! Having 3D scans of the patient limb is a great way to track limb progression over time and can be used to document medical necessity.

What devices support the Comb Scanning App?

The Comb App uses the front facing camera built into the iPhone X and most newer models, so there is no additional hardware needed to capture a scan.

Comb is compatible with the following devices:

  • iPhone® 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro, 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone® 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone® XR, XS, XS Max
  • iPhone® X
  • iPad Pro® 12.9″ (3rd-4th generation)
  • iPad Pro® 11″ (1st-2nd generation)

For more information about the Comb Scanning App, please visit their website.