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Telford-based team recognised for healthcare innovation at national awards ceremony

A team of engineers from Ricoh 3D and ORLAU have been honoured with an industry accolade, for their work in partnership with the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen, Shropshire.

The Healthcare Application Award was presented to Ricoh 3D by TCT at a glittering ceremony (9 June 2022) to celebrate and recognise excellence within the industry.

Engineers from Ricoh’s 3D printing division partnered with the Orthotic Research and Locomotor Assessment Unit (ORLAU) and the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, to update an old-fashioned knee alignment device (KAD) that had become expensive to source, repair and replace.

Crucially, fitting of the device caused discomfort to the patient and badly needed bringing into the 21st century.

The new solution was designed specifically for additive manufacturing, incorporating improved features to improve performance for both the clinician and the patient.

Samuel Oliver, Clinical Engineer at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, said: “Patient care is always our priority but this improved design is not only more effective, it is cheaper and quicker to manufacture. This whole process has really shone a spotlight on the key that 3D printing technologies hold, when unlocking the next generation of orthotic innovations.

“We are thrilled to see the project recognised in this way and look forward to continuing our working partnership with the team at Ricoh 3D.”

Speed and efficiency were also noted as a winning feature for the manufacture of this new part. Traditional aluminium devices would have taken weeks, due to manufacturing methods and supply chain complexities – all of which has been reduced to a matter of days with 3D printing – significantly alleviating the clinical pressure of the rehab engineering team.

Using Fusion 360 and FEA Analysis, the parts were produced on the HP Multi Jet Fusion machine locally at Ricoh 3D, allowing part consolidation of 50 per cent on the previous aluminium solution.

Mark Dickin from Ricoh 3d said: “It’s been great to showcase the fantastic work we’ve done with the ORLAU team, and I am thrilled with the award win, which will take pride of place in our 3D lab. Working in partnership with customers like ORLAU is producing some incredible technical innovations and our talented team of material specialists and design engineers really are equipped to take on any challenge.

“The versatility and potential of 3D really is limitless, and we are thrilled that we have been able to make a real difference to the lives of patients with our knowledge and skill in this technology.”

NHS Rehabilitation Engineers are now looking into other applications where 3D printing can add value – both to the patient and to clinicians.

The team at ORLAU describe this project as “resetting the clinical mindset” to give the NHS Trust the confidence in 3D printing as the primary method of manufacture for other patient-specific models.

To read the full case study on the KAD design, click here.

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