Lelio Leoncini marks again a standard in the digital corset

2018 could really be the year of the explosion of 3D printing in the orthopedical field.
A lot of professionals are starting to work, reinventing their work in the direction of digital fabrication.
However there’s someone marking the road of the innovation, this one is Dr. Lelio Leoncini that since 2014 is experimenting and creating digital solutions in his field of competence: physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Since then together a deep friendship and collaboration started with WASP and brought to great results.
In 2016 the web went crazy for this video showing the first generations of 3D printed corsets created by Dr. Leoncini, an unexpected application for 3D printing at the time.
With his peculiar determination and creativity, in these years the idea of creating new solutions for scoliosis has become each day more concrete and credible and taking shape in the creation of the Digital Orthopedic Laboratory.
Above all the main innovation has been the developing of the polypropylene.

The turning point of polypropylene

Who fabricates orthopedic corsets knows well how important is the material used. The consistency that defines the corrective pushes and the resistance that prevents the object from breaking. Not least the possibility to work on it easily.
In these years the research on the right material hasn’t been easy: every solution, compared to the polypropylene traditionally in use was too rigid or too flexible and always too fragile.
A fragility that you can’t afford when realizing an orthesis that has to last years.
A long work that featured TreeD filaments, Dr. Leoncini and WASP  brought to a radical turning point: the polypropylene.
Who works in 3D printing knows that for a long time this material has been considered “impossible to print” decently due to its peculiar behavior during the deposition and for the difficult adhesion to the bed.
In time a lot of plastic producers tried to develop their version of the material with compositions that made it easier to print but with disappointing mechanical performances comparing to the injection molded.
The real result has been that usually people tried to replace it with materials familiar to the world of 3D printing(ABS, nylon, PLA) settling for the offered solutions.

In 2017 from a long experimentation a new material was born, a real polypropylene developed by TreeD filaments that in the tests was found to be at the same time compatible with the printing and ensuring mechanical performances up to 95% similar to the injection molded polypropylene.
Even if it’s not in the category of  “easy-printable” materials is now possible to create stunning stuff.
Furthermore, it allows the professionals in the world of orthopedy to work with a familiar material, robust, easy to finish, just good.

New busts for impossible cases

Another field of research was designing at 360° over the traditional limits.
Thanks to digital fabrication it was possible to create custom solutions to patients with more complex situations for example corsets with very complex shapes or with the necessity of support even in the head.
The 4 column scannin system has demonstrated to be the best way of acquiring anatomies for children, for people with difficulties in breathing, for the ones with compromised moving.
Everyday these technologies seems to open up to new applications.
By the time the tools and the knowledge are moving forward fast. Every year printing time reduces and the quality of the products increases.

Today many professionals working in orthopedy are getting close to the world of digital fabrication, a world that attracts and has a lot of space for experimentation.
The hope is seeing in next years the results of the long work that is creating a culture of the new technologies in the world of orthopedy.
This is surely a challenge but one that is worth accepting.