Topology Optimization and Freeform Fabrication Framework for Developing Prosthetic Feet

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Fey, Nicholas P.
South, Brian J.
Seepersad, Carolyn C.
Neptune, Richard R.

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University of Texas at Austin


The ability to easily design and manufacture prosthetic feet with novel design characteristics has great potential to improve amputee rehabilitation and care. This study presents a framework using topology optimization methods to develop new prosthetic feet to be manufactured using selective laser sintering. As an example application, the framework was used to generate a prosthetic foot that minimizes material usage while trying to replicate the stiffness characteristics of a commercially available carbon fiber foot. The solution was validated using finite element methods to verify the foot’s loading response, and a prototype was manufactured. The result was a novel foot design that with future design modification has the potential to improve amputee gait by providing energy storage and return and reducing prosthetic weight.


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