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Digital Workflows Support Social Distancing

Before the global health crisis we are now experiencing, digital workflows were being adopted for their efficiencies. Now, they are also being recognized as a key factor in supporting social distancing. Learn how digital workflows support social distancing while unlocking the many benefits within the prosthetic fabrication processes.

Bringing the Practice to the Patient

Because every ride matters, scanning the patient at home or in a hospital setting is a huge benefit to patients. This patient care model is gaining in popularity as more practices embrace scanning and integrate it into their workflows.

Casting has two health risk factors: physical contact and duration. Scanning can be performed with no physical contact with a patient and takes a fraction of the time of casting a patient. Though not a substitute for casting, scanning provides a socially distant alternative.

With new scanning technologies making scanning simpler than ever, there is no reason not to scan each patient that comes into the practice. Having patient scans that become part of their electronic medical record simplifies tracking limb progression over time and simplifies justification of medical necessity.

Design Sockets Remotely, from Anywhere

The digital positive model created from a successful scan can be imported into a prosthetic CAD (Computer Aided Design) system to be modified. Working digitally enables people to work outside of a traditional practice workspace. Without the need to pour plaster, check sockets can be designed from anywhere, any time.

Digital modifications can be made in the next room or across the globe. Modified digital models can be sent for fabrication via email. This provides a faster, cheaper, and safer alternative to sending physical plaster models that are expensive to ship and can be damaged in transit while adding delays to the process.

CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) software makes it possible to take your digital design and specify things like material, device wall thickness, and many other factors used to “slice” the modified digital model to prepare it for 3D printing.

A big misconception is that it takes advanced computing skills to be able to design sockets digitally. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone that can send or read email and post on social media can easily learn how to design sockets using software.

3D Printing from a Distance Delivers Automation, Scalability

Once the modified model has been sliced, a printer-ready G-code file is created. This G-code can be digitally transmitted via email and other online sharing mechanisms. Transmitting the design to the person responsible for printing requires no direct physical proximity.

Files can be submitted to network-connected printers from anywhere if a network connection exists. The 3D printer can operate independent of human interaction, except for loading filament and removing completed prints from the print bed.

3D printing–or robotic-driven fabrication–is a socially distant form of fabrication by its very essence. One technician can manage several printers, making social distancing possible, even in large fabrication centers. Printers may need servicing periodically, but they never call in sick or need to be quarantined!

Replacing a lost or damaged device is as simple as pressing a button and requires no human touchpoints to recreate the device.


While the need for social distancing will wane in a widely vaccinated world, the benefits of digital workflows in prosthetics will survive and thrive. The ability to provide patient care in a home or hospital setting, being able to design check sockets anywhere and the automation of fabrication to specification will make digital workflows the clear way of the future of O&P fabrication.