Disability Innovations: How 3D printing will make orthotics smarter, faster and cheaper

Woman wearing and holding decorated back braces

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is Andiamo?

Andiamo is a start up creating healthcare solutions for disabled children, with a mission to see no child ever having to wait more than one week to receive a medical device.

Andiamo’s first venture is looking to 3D print orthotic supports, from back braces and wrist braces, to open foot orthoses. To reduce waiting periods to receive orthotics from a number of weeks to a mere 48 hours.

They are working to combine 3D scanning, printing and bio-mechanical models to create orthotics for children with a range of impairments from cerebral palsy, spina bifida or spinal injuries, to strokes and the side effects of chemotherapy.

How can 3D printing help?

Naveed and Samiya Parvez are parents from London whose son, Diamo, was born with cerebral palsy. They are also the founders of Andiamo.

Having been through the orthotics system with Diamo, so they know firsthand the discomfort and hassle involved in being measured and fitted for a new back brace. The process currently involves the child having to lie still for an hour to have a plaster of Paris cast made before waiting up to 28 weeks for the new orthotic to be made.

We all know how children can grow out of shoes and clothes in a matter of weeks, so it’s no surprise that by the time many children receive their orthosis months later they no longer fit. The current system is not only old fashioned but also painful, slow and expensive.

Naveed and Samiya founded Andiamo as they saw the huge potential in 3D printing and wanted to help make sure that no other family has to go through what they did.

Smarter, faster, cheaper

Not only is the process of 3D scanning and printing quicker and a more pleasant experience for all involved, it also sees a dramatic improvement in the accuracy of the final orthotic.

Whilst traditional plaster orthotics are accurate to 1 to 3 millimetres, 3D printed orthotics can be accurate to 0.1mm, which means they can ensure a near perfect fit.

Art and design is at the heart of Andiamo’s ethos. They are working to see the end of ugly supports, which make users feel bad about using them, by incorporating beautiful and artistic design into their orthotics. For Andiamo, their design pillars of Magic, Beauty and Invisibility are at the heart of everything they do, as Samiya Parvez sums up, “The choice between being ugly and being able to walk is not an option.”

What’s next?

Andiamo have already scanned three children and several adults for their orthotics and are developing prototypes in preparation for their first fitting.

To celebrate Andiamo getting to the IBM Interconnect and Smartcamp World Finals for start-ups in Las Vegas, they have just launched their second Crowdfunding campaign and are hoping to raise £40,000 by the end of March. Their aim is to get more families involved in their service. To find out more, or to help support their campaign, visit Andiamo’s Kickstarter page.

Why we like it

We love how this project is driven by parents of a disabled child who are working to find an innovative solution to a problem they’ve experienced first-hand. Andiamo has a real user-centered approach which is designed around the child and their family, focusing on reducing distress and increasing the quality of life of disabled children.

3D printing orthotics has the potential to not only reduce pain and increase comfort, but also to improve the speed and accuracy, as well as the cost and design of orthotics. Andiamo really seem to have thought of everything and are definitely one to watch!

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To tell us about a Disability Innovation, please email innovation@scope.org.uk.