The V3D socket

Designing a Volume-adjustable, Affordable, 3D printable, Transradial, Prosthetic socket

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The conventional fabrication process of prosthetic sockets is known for being labor-intensive and time-consuming. It takes the user to wait 2-5 weeks to receive the prosthetic socket. In addition, most of the conventional sockets have fixed volumes that do not consider the volume fluctuations that the user experience daily because of muscle activities and comorbid medical conditions. 3D printing has shown promising results in producing lower limb sockets; however, upper limb sockets are overlooked. The goal of this master thesis is to design and fabricate a volume-adjustable, affordable, 3D printable transradial, prosthetic socket. In this research, the V3D (Volume-adjustable, 3D printable) socket has been developed with a material cost of only €30. The socket provides a volume-adjustable closure system around the residual limb, easiness of donning and doffing without skin shearing, full elbow extension, high range of flexion, low weight, and breathability. The socket was designed to be able to withstand a load of 50N that can be applied axially or transversely at the tip of the socket without breakage. The designed socket was 3D printed using the Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) printing technique, from tough Polylactic Acid (tough PLA). Mechanical and human assessments have been conducted to evaluate the strength, function, and comfort of the developed socket. Results have shown that the socket managed to withstand a load up to 100N that was applied axially and transversely, respectively, without showing any signs of damage. During testing the socket with 5 participants for evaluating its comfort and function, the socket has succeeded to achieve full contact with the residual limbs, while offering volume-adjustability that accommodated the differences in size and properties of the residual limbs among participants. Not only that, but also, the socket succeeded to allow full elbow extension, a range of flexion up to 95°, and donning and doffing in less than 10 seconds without applying any shear forces on the skin. The developed V3D socket has proven the possibility to 3D print reliable sockets using the FDM printing technique with a total labor time of 4 hours per socket, and a total fabrication time of 5 days with a material cost of only €30. In addition, the socket has proved that it can be fitted using a caliper in case 3D scanners are not available. That advantage makes producing the V3D socket feasible in communities that do not have access to 3D scanners. Furthermore, the socket can be parameterized such that users with similar geometry and comparable sizes of residual limbs can fit the same socket, which would make the fabrication process less labor-intensive and less time-consuming as it was aimed for.