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Penn State Student?s Prosthetic Foot Design Advances in 3D Challenge

Eric M. Miller, a sophomore mechanical engineering major at Pennsylvania State (Penn State) Berks qualified for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ (ASME’s) Innovative Additive Manufacturing 3D (IAM3D) Challenge for a lightweight, low-cost, longer-lasting transtibial prosthesis he is designing and creating. Miller’s project was entered in the Global E-Fest North America East, held in April. IAM3D challenge e-fests are regional events built around design, advanced manufacturing, and robotics. Five semifinalists are chosen from each of three e-fests. Those winners will compete at ASME’s International Design and Engineering Technical Conferences & Computers and Information in Engineering Conference in August.

Penn State Berks senior Grant Y. Bleicher, who is majoring in electromechanical engineering technology, and faculty sponsor Elizabeth Wiggins-Lopez, MS, lecturer of engineering and director of the Berks Learning Factory, are collaborating with Miller on his Project E.M.OTION.

Miller is using a Fortus 900mc printer, which has a build volume of three feet by two feet by three inches, and uses inexpensive and easily accessible ULTEM 9085 thermoplastic. The prosthesis-a carbon fiber equivalent running blade-is produced with fused deposition modeling 3D printing, an additive manufacturing method.

“The prosthetic itself is two feet tall, six inches wide, and nine inches thick. I sized it to fit my own six-foot-one-inch frame,” Miller said. He estimates the device will cost about $5,000.

“With my design, a patient can get individual parts instead of an entire leg. And the use of 3D scanning technology allows for a more accurate fit, which is good for the user, and saves on manufacturing costs, including less material, reduced production time, and fewer rejects,” he said.

Editor’s note: This story was adapted from materials provided by Penn State.