3D Printing Method for Upper-Limb Diagnostic Sockets: A Technical Note



Prosthetics, Upper-limb, 3D Printing, Digital Technology, Fabrication Techniques, Diagnostic Socket, Clinical Practice, Transradial, Fused Deposition Modelling, Additive Manufacturing


A diagnostic socket is commonly used by prosthetists to assess and optimize the fit and comfort of the device on the patient before fabricating the definitive socket. As such, it must be transparent, rigid, and thermoformable. However, a viable method for 3D printing a diagnostic socket meeting these criteria has yet to be established. Therefore, the objective of this study is to present a clinically viable approach to 3D print diagnostic sockets for upper-limb prosthetics.

In this study, a Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) 3D printer was selected due to its accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and desired part properties. Commonly used thermoplastic filaments were evaluated. Printing parameters such as layer height, shell thickness, and number of perimeters were optimized to enhance transparency and rigidity. Post-processing techniques were explored to improve transparency.

Five diagnostic sockets were created using polyvinyl butyral (PVB) filament with specific printing parameters and underwent successful clinical assessments by prosthetists. Feedback from both prosthetists and patients confirmed that the 3D printed sockets met transparency, rigidity, and thermoformability criteria, making them a promising alternative to traditional sockets. This research underscores the potential of FDM 3D printing for affordable and accessible prosthetic socket fabrication, with implications for transforming traditional clinical practice to a digital process.




How to Cite

K. Meng, C. C. Ngan, H. Sivasambu, and J. Andrysek, “3D Printing Method for Upper-Limb Diagnostic Sockets: A Technical Note”, CMBES Proc., vol. 46, Jun. 2024.