Sichuan Ju An Hui Science and Technology Institute in China has used 3D printing to build an advanced medical device which will provide assistance to the people who are suffering from any sort of knee disability. The company has developed a 3D-printed exoskeleton knee braces named BioNEEK which is made using the PEEK material. PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone) is a high-performance FDM filament which is used in the medical applications. The company worked with INTAMSYS to develop the passive exoskeleton.
INTAMSYS (Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Systems) offers very high-quality parts which are 3D printed. The parts are of high-performance functional like ABS, Nylon, PC, PPSU, ULTEM, and PEEK. The BioNEEK brace is for knee support that has a magnetorheological damper which has the function of absorbing shock. This prevents the transfer of excessive force directly to the knees. To ensure comfort while wearing the brace, there is a foam padding present inside the brace.
There is also an adjustable hinge in the brace which prevents hypertension. This way, the rehabilitation of the knee joints are facilitated. The hinge also tracks the natural knee moments to provide stability and support. Among all the joints present in the human body, the knee is the most complex and largest one. The thigh bone (femur) and the shin bone (tibia) are joined together by the knee. There are many bones which join together to form this one joint. Knee joints play a vital role in maintaining the balance and holding the body weight. The joints face most pressure when a person is walking, running, or jumping.
Knee pain is a very common and disturbing problem which is caused by regular wear and tear that results from the daily activities and sports injuries. There are many reasons which account for the knee pain that arises from various activities. Usually, only one knee is affected by the sports-related injuries. However, diseases like arthritis, gout, pseudogout or osteoarthritis are the reason for pain in both the knees. The passive exoskeleton is the reason which becomes very useful to aid people in these cases and also ensure the protection of the knees.
The knee brace is printed using INTAMSYS FUNMAT PRO HT 3D Printer. The bioNEEK knee brace can be customized to meet the specific needs of various users. The parts of PEEK which are produced on the Pro HT printer has a tensile strength of about 99.9 MPa and Young’s Modulus (E) of 3738. This strength is required for PEEK to be used in the main frame of BioNEEK since it needs to support the load on the knees. The CEO of INTAMSYS Charles Han said, “With the outstanding mechanical strength and stiffness of PEEK coupled with the reliability of INTAMSYS 3D printing solution, Sichuan Ju An Hui is now able to swiftly customize according to customers’ sizes and produce BioNEEK that fits comfortably on the knees of each customer while delivering the industry-leading level of protection, made possible by 3D printed PEEK.”
As the problems related to knees have grown a lot in today’s generation. The products like BioNEEK will bring a huge comfort for the people who face restriction with movements due to knee injuries. The device can also provide support and strength to the knee after knee replacement surgery has been done.