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How WalkStrong™ and ClearFit™ Strengthens the Business Case for 3D Printed Check Sockets

The business case for investing in digital workflows that support 3D scanning, digital design and 3D printing check sockets is robust. With the introduction of the WalkStrong Socket printed in ClearFit filament, the business case is about to get a whole lot stronger and clearer.

Reduced Material Costs

Prior to ClearFit, PVA Med has always recommended PCTG filament, primarily due to its strength and clarity. Strength is required for patient safety, clarity to allow practitioners to be able to judge fit by visualizing pressure points and voids between the check socket and limb. However, the big drawback of PCTG is cost.

In an effort to drive clinical operating costs lower, PVA Med has been testing alternate, suitable materials with similar strength and clarity. Of the many filaments tested, ClearFit emerged as the obvious choice. ClearFit was then certified for use with the preconfigured slicing profiles that make printing high quality check sockets a breeze.

ClearFit filament costs roughly 1/3 of what PCTG costs. To put this into context, filament costs to print a PCTG check socket are, on average, $39 for a BK and $78 for an AK. For ClearFit, the average material costs are just $13 for a BK and $26 for an AK.

Increased Strength

One of the obstacles for adoption of 3D printed check sockets has been a perceived lack of strength, especially in regions of the socket where failures can lead to falls and serious injuries. The most vulnerable area of the socket is the transition from the distal attachment to the patient’s limb, with print layers aligned with this “z fault line.”

To address this need, the PVA Med engineering team designed a distal attachment that includes support members, or “reinforcement ribs”, that are shaped and automatically placed according to the size and shape of the patient’s limb. These reinforcement ribs provide support in the critical area of the 3D printed socket that connects the socket to the limb components.

This novel check socket design not only makes dynamic fitting with 3D printed check sockets possible, it also makes it safer. The fact that many practitioners are fitting patients with WalkStrong sockets today without the need to fiberglass reinforce the distal aspect, leads to increase time and material savings. Unreinforced WalkStrong sockets provide visibility of more of the limb, increasing its diagnostic value to the practitioner.

Operational Efficiency

WalkStrong sockets are printed with a durable 10 layer, cross-hatched distal interface. This integrated interface alleviates the need to 3D print a separate z-plate part, out of a separate PLA material that then needs to be epoxied to the socket in order to attach the prosthetic components. The WalkStrong distal interface bond is also strengthened by the ribs which integrate into the distal interface.

For the many WalkStrong users who feel confident enough in the strength of the WalkStrong socket to forego reinforcement, additional time and material savings can be realized. Going from 3D printed check socket to dynamic fitting on the patient is as simple as cutting trim lines, drilling holes in distal interface, then attaching componentry.

 WalkStrong – A Faster, Better, Cheaper Check Socket

PVA Med customers have been able to deliver patient prosthesis on average 7 days faster by using 3D printing check sockets. And now, for the first time, WalkStrong delivers a check socket that is better than other 3D printed check sockets and even traditionally pulled check sockets, both in terms of strength and diagnostic value.

Because labor is the biggest cost input for creating check sockets, reducing labor required for digital design and automatic fabrication through 3D printing delivers check sockets that are cheaper.

Contact us for a PVA Med WalkStrong sample today!