Based on research, specialist insight, 3D printing expertise and a 360° approach to digital networking, the up-and-coming company based in Munich has developed a web-based solution platform. Orthopaedic technicians can now apply the benefits of high-grade automation to better respond to their patients’ needs. In just three steps, they are able to create a perfectly fitting orthopaedic brace (orthesis) or artificial limb (prosthesis) using the Mecuris Solution Platform. And compared with traditional construction and production processes, this platform-based method requires much less money and time.
Mecuris has digitalised fitting processes, automated construction and leveraged the advantages of cutting-edge 3D printing technology. Its work has revolutionised orthopaedic technology and now provides modern, stylish and CE-certified ortheses and prostheses that are made to measure for the wearer. And the cost of this personalised care is comparable to that of traditionally-produced aids, thanks to advanced, automated developments. Mecuris’ innovative approach has not only improved patients’ satisfaction with their aids, it has also improved the productivity of orthopaedic technicians.
This new development is based on the 3D CAD software SOLIDWORKS and the possibilities afforded by additive manufacturing. Prostheses and ortheses can now be custom-tailored digitally and produced quickly through 3D printing. SolidLine, a software consultancy and provider of the Bechtle Group, helped Mecuris introduce SOLIDWORKS quickly and efficiently.
Jannis Breuninger, Mecuris co-founder and head of product development, participated in the research project that produced the world’s first 3D-printed prosthetic leg. In his view, the project's success can be traced back to the use of a robust development environment that not only supported 3D printing but also enabled the automation of countless configuration combinations. “I’ve worked with many CAD tools during my time at the Fraunhofer IPA. I especially liked SOLIDWORKS’ tidy user interface and intuitiveness, both of which allow you to work quickly.”
But as a young start-up, Mecuris lacked the funds to purchase the SOLIDWORKS 3D construction environment that Mr Breuninger used during his initial research. SolidLine, however, had just the right solution: SOLIDWORKS for Entrepreneurs. This programme provides ten licences at a discounted price and is therefore ideally suited for companies just starting out.
“I was pleased that I could use this software again at Mecuris. SOLIDWORKS lets you create parametric models. The parameters’ values can be set externally, which then enabled us to automate the designing of custom components,” says Mr Breuninger. “This has accelerated the development process, in other words shortened the time to market. We’ve since been using SOLIDWORKS Premium as our standard tool for the construction and visualisation of our product lines.”
Mecuris is taking full advantage of SOLIDWORKS’ parametric features as well as the benefits of its construction configurations. By identifying key factors for the development of prostheses—including the measurement of feet and limbs, patient weight and individual load conditions—Mecuris staff was able to draw up construction tables that contained all possible parametric combinations. These tables are instrumental in automating construction, helping to create personalised models in a matter of minutes instead of days and doing away with separate modelling.
“The more parameters we add, the more degrees of freedom our prostheses have,” says Manuel Opitz, co-founder and managing director of Mecuris. “We work together with 3D printing providers to produce custom-fit prostheses internally using lasers and polyamide 12, a common thermoplastic that has exactly the material characteristics we need. This lets us configure and manufacture prostheses around the world.”
Mecuris also relied on the SOLIDWORKS API (Application Programming Interface) to link SOLIDWORKS construction configurations with the Mecuris Solution Platform. This intuitive online portal enables orthopaedic technicians to configure and order prostheses even if they have no knowledge of how CAD programs or 3D printing works. “Our software guides certified orthopaedic technicians through the configuration process, thus obtaining measurement data and the 3D scan,” explains Mr Opitz. “This involves technicians in the process of constructing the prosthesis, in particular with respect to its shape and functionality.”
“Using SOLIDWORKS API, the head of our software department developed a transfer protocol enabling our online application to communicate with SOLIDWORKS,” adds Mr Breuninger. Customers can see directly what their future prosthesis will look like—another unique Mecuris advantage made possible by SOLIDWORKS. “Automation is what makes us different from other companies, which spend a lot of time on each individual order,” says Mr Breuninger.
MECURIS was founded in mid-2016 as a spin-off of the Clinic of the University of Munich (LMU). With currently 30 employees Mecuris develops and distributes highly individual 3D-printed orthoses and prostheses as well as the associated automation solution (Mecuris Solution Platform). Customers are medical supply stores and orthopaedic workshops. The interdisciplinary Team consists of experts and opinion leaders in orthopedics, Medical technology, Production engineering, Computer Science, Business Administration and Design.
Head of Business Unit 3D-printing
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Published on May 28, 2019.