From October 2009 to September 2013
Project Leader(s): Prof Kenneth Dalgarno
Sponsors: Commission of the European Communities
Partners: A consortium of 13 partners across 7 European countries (see below for details)
The overall objective of the A-FOOTPRINT project is to develop novel ankle/foot and foot orthoses for common disabling conditions which are cost-effective, high-speed to market, and personalised for form and function. Disabling foot and ankle conditions affect approximately 200 million European citizens. Over €300M per annum is spent treating many of these people with orthoses and splints, often relying on hand-crafted manufacturing techniques which are slow, costly and difficult to reproduce. The A-FOOTPRINT approach will automate processes to speed up the manufacture, delivery and supply of personalised devices exploiting digital scanning, computer-aided design and rapid manufacturing. Novel devices will be developed which are cost-effective, yet personalised to provide better fit and comfort and functional performance. Rapid provision of better orthotic devices with excellent supporting technologies and services should result in quicker recovery times, reduced symptoms and improved functional ability thus increasing the quality of life for European citizens with disabling foot and ankle conditions. Working closely with multiple stakeholders the project will also develop flexible business models sensitive to different health care models across Europe.
Organised as 9 integrating work packages the research will develop new patient information systems to enable more effective intelligent diagnostics and prescribing protocols for personalised orthoses. Computer-aided design software linked to biomechanical/gait optimisation routines will enable clinicians and technicians to design highly personalised orthoses. The capabilities of layer/additive manufacturing techniques will be developed to enable new innovative products to be developed. The research and technology developments within A-FOOTPRINT will be combined in a fully integrated system with the production of prototype devices demonstrated within a SME pilot factory.
A-FOOTPRINT is a 4 year project funded under the 7th Framework Programme in the Nanotechnologies, Materials and New Production Technologies Cooperation Work Programme and has an overall budget of €3.72M. The consortium comprises 13 partners across 7 European countries. With a strong focus on research for the direct benefit of SME the consortium partners are AnyBody Technology AS from Denmark, Firefly Orthoses Limited from Ireland, Junquera y Diz S.L from Spain, Peacocks Medical Group from the UK, RSScan Limited from Belgium, and UAB Baltic Orthoservice from Lithuania. Academic partners are Newcastle University from the UK, K.H. Kempen University College from Belgium, and Maastricht University Medical Centre and Fontys University from the Netherlands. Industrial partners and research organisations include Materialise NV from Belgium and TNO from the Netherlands. The projected will be coordinated from Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK.
Work at Newcastle University will be led by Professor Dalgarno and will focus on the development and assessment of innovative manufacturing process routes for delivery of customised orthoses with a very short lead time, with additive manufacturing processes (also known as layer manufacturing or rapid manufacturing processes) expected to play a major part.
Professor Kenneth Dalgarno