There are many different ways to decorate a prosthetic socket, such as applying stickers, doing water transfer, and airbrushing. Of these techniques, using fabric for laminating is the most durable. However, the fabric chosen by the patient is not always ideal. The most common problem is that the patient often chooses a shirt with a large logo that is mostly rubber. And, of course, the rubber cannot be impregnated with resin. This leaves the logo area dull or, even worse, peeling.
At Evolution Industries, we recommend Liquid Blue T-shirts (www.liquidblue.com). Liquid Blue uses a unique printing process that leaves the material free from screen-printing build up. Another advantage of using Liquid Blue T-shirts is that the patient is able to browse the company's large library and choose his or her favorite design. Fred's Legs, Dania Beach, Florida, also supplies high-quality laminating sleeves to the prosthetics industry, and they recently introduced customized sleeves. Since Fred's Legs has its own instructions available on its website (www.fredslegs.com), this article will cover how to laminate sockets using Liquid Blue T-shirts.
One of our favorites is the multiple-image T-shirt. Instead of simply wrapping the shirt around the socket, we cut out the desired design, lay it on the carbon fiber, and cover it with a layer of FeatherStretch™ from RX Textiles, Monroe, North Carolina. The FeatherStretch holds the design in place during lamination and disappears afterward. If the design was printed on a black T-shirt, then only one lamination is required; any other color requires an initial white lamination with a clear lamination for the design layer. T-shirts that are brown or grey darken considerably and are not recommended.
The lamination steps are as follows:
- Fill the check socket in the alignment jig.
- Pull 1/8-in. PETG over the cast (figure 1).
- Sand the plastic with 100-grit sandpaper.
- Bond the plate to the PETG in the alignment jig (figure 2). Follow the manufacturer's instructions for bonding.
- Cut out the design from the T-shirt (figure 3).
- Place the design face down on the PETG with a light spray of 3M™ Super 77™ Multipurpose Adhesive (figure 4).
- Cover with one layer of FeatherStretch and leave it long to be reflected as the outer layer (figure 5).
- Pull the double-length carbon fiber over the cast and leave it long as well.
- Pull the double-length fiberglass over the cast and reflect it down over the cast (figure 6).
- Reflect the carbon fiber down over the cast.
- Place the second cut-out design on the carbon fiber face up with a light spray of 3M Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive.
- Reflect the layer of FeatherStretch over the cast as the final layer (figure 7).
- Laminate with clear resin, and trim out as normal (figure 8).
Craig MacKenzie, CP, RTP(c), is the president of Evolution Industries, Orlando, Florida. He can be reached at