You’d Print A Part, But Would You Print A Foot?

Born with just one foot, [Nerraw99] had to work around prosthetics all his life. Finally getting fed up with the various shortcomings of his leather and foam foot, he designed, tweaked, printed and tested his own replacement!

After using Structure Sensor to scan both his feet, [Nerraw99] began tooling around with the model in Blender and 3D printing them at his local fablab/makerspace: MakerLabs. It ended up taking nearly a dozen printed iterations — multiple printing issues notwithstanding — to get the size right and the fit comfortable. Not all of the attempts were useless; one version turned out to be a suitable water shoe for days at the beach!

The triangular structure of the final design keeps the foot rigid, while the Cheetah filament allows for enough flex to be useful. Compared to his old prosthesis, this one lends a far more realistic appearance, and — crucially — minimizes the lopsided gait [Nerraw99] struggled with for years. His heel still slips out, but overall fits better and can be more accurately modified and re-printed if blisters arise.

We always love seeing makers creating their own prosthetics, or putting their skills to work to help others — and animals too!

[Thanks for the tip, Herrgrumps!]

22 thoughts on “You’d Print A Part, But Would You Print A Foot?

  1. Having Diabetic Neuropathy, (being at risk of losing a foot), and a 3D printer, this gives me some hope that if it _does_ happen I won’t be forced to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills for something that doesn’t work or is of poor quality.

  2. Gee, born with one foot, I’m all grown up and only have six… ANYHOO, would it be possible to print a sock like extension on to the foot to keep his heel from slipping out? If you have knowledge of 3D printers could you advise how to print something as “floppy” as a sock extension on to this foot?

    1. Upon returning to school one year, the principal said to my 6th grad son, “you’ve grown a foot over the summer”, to which the smart-alec replied “yeah, now I have three!”. We were very proud. ANYHOO…
      No actual experience with prosthetics, but I personally think that’s the #1 best application for 3d printers as it solves for cost and customizability for different situations. Starting with a scan of your other foot is a great idea.
      Rather than solve for a printed sock, design a way to integrate holds for a fabric sock into the foot design, or attach with glue. That turned out to be the best solution to a large-ish solar filter holder for my camera lens after a few unsatisfactory direct print attempts. I sewed up a small spandex-tube and glued to a rim on the filter.
      No idea what kind of material might work well. Spandex is sturdy and stretchy. Cutoff nylon hose might be less visible and still do the trick (Joe Namath approved too!). A day at the fabric store will probably get you 10 different options to try.

    2. Or her could like put strategic pieces of Velcro on the foot. (The rough Velcro side, not the fuzzy side.) Then put the fuzzy patch in the shoe in question. Socks would stay on without issue as well.

    3. Nerraw99 might not have experienced the much maligned “croc”, due to needing footwear with more support, but if he had may have noticed how well just the simple heel strap keeps them on when used.

    4. An old-fashioned sock garter type of arrangement might be best, albeit not very aesthetically pleasing. A couple of loops on the foot for attachment of elastic straps which would be attached to an adjustable elastic strap around the leg above the calf.

      One advantage of this would be that sock garters are still available as economically priced mass-produced items.

  3. Yes, you can 3d print a part – and use it. But if your neuropathy, or a dozen other problems aren’t taken into account, you can be doing more damage than good. Yea – you printed a foot! Bad news is, it that now all the nerves are messed up you added pressure points, and there is decay. And we have to start over. …maybe even taking more of your leg. Enjoy that for a second. Pressure points are no joke. It’s called Bedsores (pressure ulcers). And it’s no joke. Ask me how I know.

  4. I believe 3D printing is a new hope to people who need prosthetic parts. Being part of 3D printing service industry i have seen Lives transforming with 3D printing. Although i agree this technology has certain limits but its worth giving a try and also way cheaper than traditionally formed prosthetic parts.

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