This 3D-Printed Exoskeleton Brace Aids People with Knee Disabilities
China’s Sichuan Ju An Hui Science and Technology made use of 3D printing to build an advanced medical device to provide assistance to people suffering from knee disabilities. The company developed a 3D-printed exoskeleton called BioNEEK that make use of PEEK material.
PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) is a high-performance FDM filament that is often used for medical applications. The company joined hands with INTAMSYS to develop the passive exoskeleton.
INTAMSYS (Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Systems) offers top quality 3D printed parts in a variety of high-performance functional materials like ABS, Nylon, PC, PPSU, ULTEM and PEEK.
The BioNEEK brace for knee support has a magnetorheological damper that has the function of absorbing shock and thus preventing the transfer of excessive force directly to the knees. There is foam padding inside for ensuring comfort while wearing the brace.
The brace also has an adjustable hinge that prevents hyperextension. By doing so, rehabilitation of the knee joints is facilitated. The hinge also tracks the individual’s natural knee movements to provide stability and support.
The knee is one of the most complex and largest joints in the human body. It joins the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). The fibula and patella are other bones the makes up this joint.
The knee joints have an important role in maintaining the balance as well as holding our body weight. The joints are under more pressure when we run, jump or even walk.
Knee pain as such is a very common and disturbing problem caused by wear and tear resulting from daily activities or sports injuries. Sprains, torn or swollen ligaments, cartilage tears and runners knee are the main problems causing knee pain that is often unbearable.
Sports-related injuries usually affect only one knee whereas arthritis, gout, pseudogout or osteoarthritis causes pain in both the knees. The passive exoskeleton can become extremely useful to aid people in such cases and ensure knee protection as well as faster recovery.
Printed using INTAMSYS FUNMAT PRO HT 3D Printer, the BioNEEK brace is customized to meet the specific needs of different users. The parts of PEEK produced on the Pro HT printer have a tensile strength of about 99.9 MPa and Young’s Modulus (E) of 3738. This strength is a must for PEEK to be used in the main frame of BioNEEK as it needs to support the load on our knees.
The CEO of INTAMSYS, Charles Han said, “With the outstanding mechanical strength and stiffness of PEEK coupled with the reliability of INTAMSYS 3D printing solution, Sichuan Ju An Hui is now able to swiftly customize according to customers’ sizes and produce BioNEEK that fits comfortably on the knees of each customer while delivering the industry-leading level of protection, made possible by 3D printed PEEK.”
With the growing knee problems in today’s generation, products like BioNEEK can be a huge comfort for people with restricted mobility due to knee injuries. The device can also be used to provide support and strength to the knee post knee-replacement surgeries.