May 2, 2017

Penn State Student’s Prosthetic Foot Design Advances in 3D Challenge

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Eric M. Miller, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at Pennsylvania State (Penn State) Berks qualified for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME’s) Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D (IAM3D) Challenge for a lightweight, low-cost, longer-lasting transtibial prosthesis he is designing and creating. Miller’s project was entered in the Global E-Fest North America East, held in April. IAM3D challenge e-fests are regional events built around design, advanced manufacturing, and robotics. Five semifinalists are chosen from each of three e-fests. Those winners will compete at ASME’s International Design and Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference in August.

Penn State Berks senior Grant Y. Bleicher, who is majoring in electromechanical engineering technology, and faculty sponsor Elizabeth Wiggins-Lopez, MS, lecturer of engineering and director of the Berks Learning Factory, are collaborating with Miller on his Project E.M.OTION.

Miller is using a Fortus 900mc printer, which has a build volume of three feet by two feet by three inches, and uses inexpensive and easily accessible ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic. The prosthesis—a carbon fiber equivalent running blade—is produced with fused deposition modeling 3D printing, an additive manufacturing method.

“The prosthetic itself is two feet tall, six inches wide, and nine inches thick. I sized it to fit my own six-foot-one-inch frame,” Miller said. He estimates the device will cost about $5,000.

“With my design, a patient can get individual parts instead of an entire leg. And the use of 3D scanning technology allows for a more accurate fit, which is good for the user, and saves on manufacturing costs, including less material, reduced production time, and fewer rejects,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Penn State.

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