Presented below is the design and fabrication of prosthetic components consisting of an attachment, tactile sensing, and actuator systems with Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) technique. The attachment system is a thermoplastic osseointegrated upper limb prosthesis for average adult trans-humeral amputation with mechanical properties greater than upper limb skeletal bone. The prosthetic designed has: a one-step surgical process, large cavities for bone tissue ingrowth, uses a material that has an elastic modulus less than skeletal bone, and can be fabricated on one system.
FFF osseointegration screw is an improvement upon the current two-part osseointegrated prosthetics that are composed of a fixture and abutment. The current prosthetic design requires two invasive surgeries for implantation and are made of titanium, which has an elastic modulus greater than bone. An elastic modulus greater than bone causes stress shielding and overtime can cause loosening of the prosthetic.
The tactile sensor is a thermoplastic piezo-resistive sensor for daily activities for a prosthetic’s feedback system. The tactile sensor is manufactured from a low elastic modulus composite comprising of a compressible thermoplastic elastomer and conductive carbon. Carbon is in graphite form and added in high filler ratios. The printed sensors were compared to sensors that were fabricated in a gravity mold to highlight the difference in FFF sensors to molded sensors. The 3D printed tactile sensor has a thickness and feel similar to human skin, has a simple fabrication technique, can detect forces needed for daily activities, and can be manufactured in to user specific geometries.
Lastly, a biomimicking skeletal muscle actuator for prosthetics was developed. The actuator developed is manufactured with Fuse Filament Fabrication using a shape memory polymer composite that has non-linear contractile and passive forces, contractile forces and strains comparable to mammalian skeletal muscle, reaction time under one second, low operating temperature, and has a low mass, volume, and material costs. The actuator improves upon current prosthetic actuators that provide rigid, linear force with high weight, cost, and noise.