Ottobock has been awarded a grant worth up to €1m (£850,000) to advance customised patient fittings using digital processes and 3D printed products.
The company received the funding for its ‘iFab4.0’ innovation project from the federal state of Lower Saxony, which called it a “globally important initiative”.
“We are delighted with this grant support,” said Professor Hans Georg Näder, owner and chairman of Ottobock. “It will help us in the further digital optimisation of treatment.”
With iFab4.0, Ottobock plans to develop what it describes as a continuous digital process chain of the fitting process.
It said body scans are increasingly replacing more manual processes, such as measurements and plaster casting.
The O&P professional then designs the computer-aided model of an orthosis or prosthesis.
This is followed by the automated, digital 3D printed fabrication of the customised device for the user.
“Even the simulation of the success of the fitting will be digital in the future, sparing the patient multiple fittings and trial fittings,” stated Güngör Kara, CDO of Ottobock. “Algorithms and artificial intelligence make it possible.”
There are a number of challenges that Ottobock hopes to resolve with iFab4.0.
For example, O&P professionals increasingly use 3D scanners to measure body parts – but in the subsequent modelling process, they still have to use software that is seldom tailored to the requirements of orthopaedic technology. This limits the possibilities for creating a digital twin.
The grant will allow Ottobock to implement the innovation project and ensure users can be quickly supplied with customised fittings.