Orthopaedic devices are designed using CAD packages such as Pro/Engineer Wildfire. Today’s most advanced CAD packages create feature-based models, where each feature acts as a building block for the entire model. A change in one feature can affect other features in the model, and when applied properly, can significantly increase design efficiency.
FEA is an analytic tool that helps to solve linear and nonlinear problems using a wide range of element types and material definitions. The solver currently used in Device Development is Abaqus. The operations most applicable to Biomechanics are its ability to evaluate static stress and displacements, dynamic stress and displacements, and viscoelastic response. These generated solutions can provide insight as to how orthopaedic implants function as a system and within their environment. Performing sensitivity analyses by modifying design variables and initial conditions will be essential to improving the design and development of future orthopaedic implants.
The ability to use physiologically accurate skeletal representations for both research and development is critical for developing innovative devices and analyzing their designs. Materialise allows these representations to be generated by taking clinical CAT-scan data sets and manipulating them into three-dimensional reconstructions of the skeletal anatomy. Once reconstructed, this information can then be used for many purposes, including research, implant design, and patient-specific implants.
Creating 3D models of prototypes and skeletal anatomy is extremely useful for developing devices and planning complex surgical procedures. For these reasons, we have obtained a Dimension Elite 3D Printer. With this printer, we can create models in ABS plastic up to 8”x8”x12” in size. The Dimension printer builds models in layers from .stl files, a common 3D CAD file format, and can create models with a layer thickness of only .007” thick. With this resolution, even models with fine details can be created easily.