Renova Foot Surgeons Remark on 3D Printing

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3D technology has quickly gone from fancy sci-fi tech to a rather common tool that has proved beneficial in countless ways. Now, 3D technology is making its way into foot care by helping doctors diagnose and treat many common foot conditions. In the United States, major footwear companies like Nike and New Balance are using the printers to manufacture custom shoe designs based on the unique biomechanics of professional athletes.

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Will 3D Technology Introduce a New Era of Foot Care?:

Will 3D Technology Introduce a New Era of Foot Care? Renova Foot & Ankle December 2013

A New Era in Foot Care:

A New Era in Foot Care While 3D scanning and 3D printing have been around for several years now, the technology has only recently begun to have applications in the world of foot care. Doctors in the UK plan to revolutionize the diagnosis and treatment of foot conditions with a PedCAT 3-D scanner. Here in the US, shoemakers like New Balance and Nike are using 3D printers to create customized shoes to fit the unique biomechanics of athletes.

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital:

Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital Doctors at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital have begun using a 3D scanner to diagnose patients’ foot conditions . A video on ABC News demonstrates the difference between a traditional 2D X-ray and a 3D scan of a woman’s foot in high heels. The scan depicts the foot’s bones being forced into an unnatural shape—an occurrence that the specialists in London blame for long-term foot damage in many patients.

Skeptics, Experts, and Skeptical Experts:

Skeptics, Experts, and Skeptical Experts Some critics, however, point out that the 3D scan may not provide all the answers that doctors are looking for. Dr. Bob Baravarian of Santa Monica/UCLA Medical Center explained that “In order to show that a person has a problem with heels, you do a pressure distribution study.” Without truly knowing how pressure is being distributed in the foot, it can be tough to get a full story from a scan. Plus, though 3D scans can give a clear picture of the foot’s bones, it still doesn’t rule out the possibility that damage to the foot may be a result of previous injury rather than fancy shoes.

Still No Consensus:

Still No Consensus While doctors have yet to reach a consensus on the advantage of 3D scanning in the examination room, shoe companies have begun their own experiments with 3D technology. For New Balance, this means using 3D printers to create customized shoes for athletes. Developers are collecting biomechanical data on the way feet of individual athletes strike the ground. After plotting out how much force is being applied to different areas of the foot, developers create a template for a unique pair of shoes to be manufactured on a 3D printer. So far, only professional athletes have gotten the chance to own a pair of custom printed shoes, but New Balance hopes to make the shoes available at specialty locations within five years.

Nike, Adidas and New Balance:

Nike, Adidas and New Balance Nike has also begun incorporating 3D technology into their designs, having recently released a line of football cleats made on a 3D printer. This adds to the number of printer-made shoe products for athletes, which also includes running shoes by Adidas and custom running spikes and midsoles developed by New Balance. These products could soon revolutionize how we shop for shoes .

Future of Foot Care:

Future of Foot Care Overall, it looks like 3D technology will have an important impact on the future of foot care. Though experts have yet to reach a consensus on the best use of 3D scanning, a tool that allows doctors to get a better view into the body will surely become useful during the diagnosis and treatment of foot issues. And, while highly customized shoes have yet to reach the masses, the general public may soon benefit from the health benefits of 3D printer-made shoes .

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