3D Scanned and Printed Orthotic Prototype Zero – Part One

The journey to prototype zero started at the Monki Gras dinner on January 31st 2013 when James Governer’s off hand comment/challenge to see if we could create a prototype in 1 year and present at Monki Gras 2014.

Source: http://www.itwriting.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/image.png

During the initial six months of research we assumed that this was such a simple idea that there must be someone out there that had already done it and commercialised it.

October and November 2013 proved to be the turning point as we started the incorporation process to become a limited company and started working out how to make our idea possible.

It was at the 3D print show in London that we first really started to understand how close to the bleeding edge we were. Two of the exhibitors showed what was possible, but what was more important was they were pioneering.

The man who had his missing face replaced

Eric Moger

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9962798/How-doctors-printed-my-new-face.html

Eric Moger lost half of his face after surgical intervention to an aggressive cancer tumor. Read the full story here.
Dr Andrew Dawood presented at the 3D print show, how his background with 3D scanning and printing in dentistry lead to creating a facial prosthetic for Eric Moger. This allowed him to eat solid foods and drink water from a glass again

We realised that if something so extreme could be solved using these technologies then surely our idea wasn’t just feasible, it was doable right now!

When a Sculptor and Rapid Prototyper Became an Orthotist

Although we had done a fair amount of research and had found several projects using 3D printing for prosthetics. We hadn’t been able to find any projects or companies looking at using additive manufacturing for orthotics beyond shoe insoles. Whilst shoe insoles are important and commercially successful they were not the life changing equipment we were interested in.
Tom Most came from a sculpting and rapid prototyping background with over 30 years of experience including working on the infamous DARPA Hand.

He became a qualified s orthotist and prosthetist in 2010 and started to wonder why the same tech being used in rapid prototyping wasn’t being applied to this area.
Since then he has created several orthotics and prosthetics using 3D printing and scanning as part of Scheck and Siress a specialist medical group in the USA.

Finally we had found someone who had done what we wanted to do but it became clear that both Dr Dawood and Tom Most were pioneers that were meeting resistance from the wider medical establishment.

3D Body Scanning Conference

We still couldn’t understand why we weren’t finding bigger involvement in this area. Surely this was so common sense that loads of smarter and better connected people must be doing it?

There had to be a final test so we decided to make the investment and attend the 3D Body Scanning Conference in LA. This was a very academic and medical focussed conference so we knew if there was anyone doing this we’d meet them there.

After two very intense days of being immersed in science and having multiple conversations with world leaders in 3D scanning, it was obvious that whilst there was a lot of research there just wasn’t the translation at scale into the real world.

We were excited and scared by this knowledge mixed with even more fear and excitement as we’d just had our final interview with Bethnal Green Ventures. This was getting real very quickly and we were quickly becoming de-facto experts.

The official announcement that we had been accepted into the BGV Winter Cohort 2014 came on the 18th December 2013.

It was on, we had new jobs and Prototype 0 was to be a reality very soon.

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