The ultra-accurate (±0.5mm) and lightweight (up to 65% lighter than traditional ones) 3D printed custom orthoses from Andiamo are the perfect marriage of necessity and technology. Developed across two offices in London and Gdańsk, these orthoses serve kids and adults across Europe. In fact, Andiamo's Ankle Foot Orthosis (AFO) was the first 3D printed orthosis fully refunded by the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom. I joined as a design engineer and eventually became the design and engineering lead of our first product standards, AFO, where the permutations of 103 design parameters allow the creation of a staggering 23 trillion uniquely different devices.
“I never knew walking could be fun.”
“I thought I had reached my limit, my Andiamo orthoses have changed that.”
“I give them 100 out of 10, throw my old ones in the bin.”
Mass manufacturing custom products as unique as each of us requires immense efforts and resources. In the realm of affordable 3D printed orthoses, it is a fusion of material science, biomechanics, software engineering, artificial intelligence (AI), mechanical engineering, and highly empathetic and parametric industrial design. No such efforts can be successful without a methodological approach. This process involves breaking down requirements and products into their constituents and rebuilding them by deeply studying their influence on the whole product and the design and manufacturing process. As the lead of such efforts, I was responsible for planning, conducting, and coordinating joint efforts to create a set of standards and parameters that could later be used by AI.
The implementation of parametric design in the medical device sector necessitates the breakdown, in-depth research, and STANDARDISATION of variables, components, and functions. Only through this process can comprehensive standards and parameters for mass manufacturing be established.
The dorsal wings of an AFO device are crucial for ease of donning, doffing, and wearer comfort. They need to be flexible for donning yet strong for holding the foot in the prescribed position. I assisted in planning and executing a comprehensive standardisation study, likely an industry-first, to investigate the influence of geometrical parameters on the performance of 3D printed dorsal wings.
Heel lifts in ankle-foot orthotic devices are often used to modify patient gait parameters for healthier walking. As the leader and main investigator of this study, I had to consider not only the minimum and maximum lift angles and the integration of the heel with the main orthosis geometry but also its impact on shoes, including local wear and excessive weight loading. Additionally, I addressed concerns related to the total device weight and the ease of removing unsintered 3D printing powder from internal cavities to prevent it from affecting the patient's shoes.
The addition of hinge to an AFO frees one plane of joint rotation while still keeping others locked so clinicians do not have to unnecessary limit the joint. The process of designing a hinged AFO is complex, and if unsuccessful, it can lead to unhealthy patient gait, painful skin pinching and wear, frequent servicing, or even a shortened device lifespan. In the study I assisted in planning and executing, we analyzed all factors influencing hinged AFO design and conducted numerous tests to derive best practices and guidance for orthopedic technicians and software engineers developing AI to automate the process.
Recognition for Andiamo's advancements in the Orthotics & Prosthetics field extended beyond the segment, earning it the title of London’s most innovative technology startup.