Abstract

This paper presents the results of an investigative study on the development of an affordable and functional prosthetic foot for below knee amputees. A prototype was successfully manufactured using three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. This continuously evolving technology enables the rapid production of prosthetics that are individually customized for each patient. Our prototype was developed after conducting a topology optimization study that interestingly converged to the shape of the biological human foot. Afterward, a design was envisioned where a simple energy storage and release (ESAR) mechanism was implemented to replace the Achilles tendon, which minimizes the metabolic energy cost of walking. Our mechanism can successfully manage 70% of the energy compared to a normal person during each walking step. A finite element (FE) model of the prosthetic was developed and validated using experimental tests. Then, this FE model was used to confirm the safe operation of the prosthetic through simulating different loading scenarios according to the ISO standard. A prototype was successfully tested by a healthy person using an adapter that was designed and 3D printed for this purpose. Our study clearly showed that customizable prosthetics could be produced at a fraction 1/60 of the cost of the commercially sold ones.

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