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Composite material winding technology: opening a new era of high-performance prosthesis manufacturing——Composite Material Information

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According to World Health Organization statistics, tens of millions of people around the world need prosthetics. This population is expected to double by 2050. Depending on the country and age group, 70% of those requiring prostheses involve the lower limbs. Currently, high-quality fiber-reinforced composite prostheses are unavailable to most lower limb amputees because of the high cost associated with their complex, handmade manufacturing process. Most carbon fiber-reinforced polymer (CFRP) foot prostheses are made by hand by layering multiple layers of prepreg into a mold, then curing in a hot press tank, followed by trimming and milling, a very expensive manual procedure.

With the advancement of technology, the introduction of automated manufacturing equipment for composites is expected to reduce the cost significantly. Fiber winding technology, a key composite manufacturing process, is changing the way high-performance composite prosthetics are produced, making them more efficient and economical.

What is Fiber Wrap Technology?

Fiber winding is a process in which continuous fibers are wound onto a rotating die or mandrel. These fibers can be prepregs pre-impregnated with resin or impregnated by resin during the winding process. The fibers are wound in specific paths and angles to meet the deformation and strength conditions required by the design. Ultimately, the wound structure is cured to form a lightweight and high-strength composite part.

Application of Fiber Wrap Technology in Prosthetic Manufacturing

(1) Efficient production: Fiber winding technology realizes automation and precise control, which makes the production of prosthesis much faster. Compared with traditional manual production, fiber winding can produce a large number of high-quality prosthetic parts in a short time.

(2) Cost reduction: Fiber winding technology can significantly reduce the manufacturing cost of prostheses due to the improvement of production efficiency and material utilization. It has been reported that the adoption of this technology can reduce the cost of prosthesis by about 50%.

(3) Enhancement of performance: Fiber winding technology can precisely control the alignment and direction of the fibers to optimize the mechanical properties of the prosthesis. Prosthetic limbs made of carbon fiber reinforced composites (CFRP) are not only lightweight, but also have extremely high strength and durability.

(4) Sustainability: Efficient production processes and material utilization make fiber winding technology more environmentally friendly. In addition, the durability and lightweight nature of composite prostheses help reduce resource waste and energy consumption by the user.

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With the continuous progress of fiber winding technology, its application in prosthesis manufacturing is more promising. In the future, we can look forward to smarter production systems, more diversified material choices, and more personalized prosthetic designs. Fiber winding technology will continue to promote the development of the prosthesis manufacturing industry and bring benefits to millions of people in need of prostheses around the world.

Overseas Research Progress

Steptics, a leading prosthetic manufacturing company, has dramatically increased the accessibility of prosthetics by industrializing the production of CFRP prosthetics with the ability to produce hundreds of parts per day. The company utilizes fiber winding technology to not only increase productivity, but also reduce manufacturing costs, making high-performance prosthetics affordable to more people in need.

The process of making Steptics’ carbon fiber composite prosthesis is as follows:

(1) A large forming tube is first created using fiber winding, as shown below, with Toray’s T700 carbon fiber used for the fibers.

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(2) After the tube is cured and formed, the tubing is cut into multiple segments (bottom left), and then each segment is cut in half again (bottom right) to obtain a semi-finished part.
(3) In post-processing, the semi-finished parts are individually machined, and AI-assisted customization technology is introduced in the process to adjust properties such as geometry and stiffness to the individual amputee.

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Post time: Jun-24-2024