Fabrication of Prosthetic Socket by Selective Laser Sintering
Solid freeform fabrication technologies offer exciting possibilities for improving product quality by direct manufacture of products. .One example of such product improvement is the fabrication of artificial limb sockets by selective laser sintering (SLS). Currently these sockets are produced at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio by digitizing the residual limb with a 3D laser scanner, modifying this geometry appropriately using a proprietary CAD system, producing a mold with a computer-controlled milling machine, and vacuum forming the final product. This paper describes a new manufacturing technique whereby the digital socket data from the CAD system provide input to a SLS workstation to produce the final socket directly, without the intermediate step of fabricating a mold pattern. The advantages of this process include integration of the prosthesis attachment fitting and socket as one component and greater control of local socket geometry for superior stress relief characteristics.