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Orthoses and prostheses made of bio-based plastics

In a research project, the Fraunhofer Institute for manufacturing engineering and automation (IPA) and the company Tecnaro and d dealt with orthoses and prostheses made of bio-based materials. You developed suitable organic polymer compounds, it produced prototypes and tested them. A bio-based knee prosthesis successfully was the constant load test ISO 10328, also turned out to be very promising 3D printing of prostheses with organic materials.

Biocompound hand orthosis. © Dambeck GmbH

Tecnaro came to the task, to select appropriate organic polymers, natural fibers and additives and to develop new compounds. The organic polymer manufacturer emphasised in a good workability in the Plattenextrusionsprozess, which allows for a future industrial production. From the selected materials, the Fraunhofer IPA and the orthopaedic technology company d produced different Orthotics and prostheses, which subjected it to various tests. Promising production was known as all terrain knee prosthesis (AT knees) in the injection moulding process, which has already been made of conventional plastics on the market. The researchers produced two bio-based variants from compounds containing bio-based 72 or 100 percent and they successfully tested to ISO 10328 in the endurance test with 3 million load cycles.

3D printing was an important milestone in the project. The IPA inclusive of a so-called cosmetics (replica of the body form) produced a Niagara prosthetic foot with this procedure. The researchers had also developed the necessary soft Bio-plastics in the project. Mechanical tests with the 3D-Druckmodell could no longer be performed during the project period, the researchers believe this production method but for particularly interesting.

Now many new, bio-based materials available, including transparent, heat stable, virtually shatterproof or in 3D are processed from the project. Also especially high module and materials were developed for requirements with high dimensional stability and soft materials, which are also suitable for children's toys. All compounds have a good melting behaviour, the viscosity can be adjusted in accordance with the values characteristic of polymer melts, also they have been tested for safety in the contact with the human body. The developed materials fulfil all requirements for a serial production of orthotic and prosthetic components or other new products. The project partners provide interested parties like material samples.

The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of food and Agriculture (BMEL) about the project carrier specialist agency renewable raw materials e. V. (FNR).

Website address: https://www.biooekonomie-bw.de/en/articles/pm/orthoses-and-prostheses-made-of-bio-based-plastics