Additive Manufacturing Techniques for Smart Prosthetics Liners

Global Disability Innovation Hub
July 21, 2021

Abstract

Elastomeric liners are commonly worn between the prosthetic socket and the limb. A number of improvements to the state of the art of liner technology are required to address outstanding problems. A liner that conforms to the residuum more accurately, may improve the skin health at the stump-socket interface. Previous work has shown that for effective thermal management of the socket environment, an active heat removal system is required, yet this is not available. Volume tracking of the stump could be used as a diagnostic tool for looking at the changes that occur across the day for all users, which depend on activity level, position, and the interaction forces of the prosthetic socket with the limb. We believe that it would be advantageous to embed these devices into a smart liner, which could be replaced and repaired more easily than the highly costly and labour-intensive custom-made socket. This paper presents the work to develop these capabilities in soft material technology, with: the development of a printable nanocomposite stretch sensor system; a low-cost digital method for casting bespoke prosthetic liners; a liner with an embedded stretch sensor for growth / volume tracking; a model liner with an embedded active cooling system.