Improving Children's Mobility with Simulation & 3D Printing

  • Devices delivered in days not months
  • Orthoses fit first time
  • No bruising or further discomfort

Revolutionizing the Children's Orthotics Industry

The traditional way to make an orthosis (an externally worn support brace to assist body movement) for a child can be a lengthy and difficult process for the entire family. On a first appointment, the limb or torso is wrapped in plaster which can be an unpleasant, messy and traumatizing procedure, especially for children who are not able to communicate. The plaster is then cut off and sent for fabrication where the orthotic device is hand-manufactured based on the plaster mould.

Due to the handmade nature of the products and the relatively small number of medical specialists available to manufacture them, a wait of several months for the final brace is the norm – and even then there is no guarantee of a good fit as the child continues to grow since the plaster mould was made. An Ill-fitting orthosis can result in all kinds of negative scenarios:
  • If the device doesn’t fit then it won’t be worn so there is no health benefit realized.
  • A bad fit can result in bruising, torn skin and continued pain and discomfort felt by the child.
  • The child and consequently the entire family needs to attend further appointments to make revisions to the device, incurring travel costs and time off work and school.
Following the experiences of needing orthoses for their own son, Naveed and Samiya Parvez saw potential in the mass customization benefits of 3D printing as a possible solution to the problem of poorly fitting, slow to deliver devices. Together they founded Andiamo, a London based start-up company aiming to revolutionize the children’s orthotics industry.

Andiamo‘s process does away with the need for plaster casts, instead starting with a digital 3D scan of the body, creating a highly accurate model to start designing around.

“3D scanning is less invasive and more accurate than the traditional method – and it takes only 5 to 10 minutes.“ said Samiya.”


“Simulation is absolutely critical because of two things. Number one is we want to understand how the orthosis is going to work, but the second thing we want to know is how the body is going to react to the orthosis,” said Naveed. “There is a dance between the device and the human body and simulation allows us to test assumptions and go away from guess work to a place of very, very deep understanding. This allows us to develop whole new ways to treat a condition and improving that child’s life.”
To accurately design devices that were comfortable to wear on a daily basis, the design team wanted to explore the use of simulation technologies to predict and eliminate pressure points before the devices were manufactured, turning to Altair for support.

“We’re dealing with remarkable children. With all of their disabilities, the way they handle pain is quite incredible,” said Samiya. “These children would be in a lot of pain but you wouldn’t know about it until it’s too late because they can just take it and take it. Simulation beforehand would shortcut all that bad experience for the kids.”

Altair‘s own engineering consultancy worked with Andiamo and helped the team to develop a process that incorporated the latest design and manufacturing simulation technologies. The 3D scan data is now used as an input for Altair HyperWorks’ solvers, OptiStruct and Radioss, to analyze and optimize the orthoses. The challenge came from accurately representing the highly complex interaction of the human body and the device, along with the child’s movements, and the multiple contacts between the orthosis and the body in conjunction with the nonlinear material behavior of the polymer device.

“With the help of the Altair solutions, we are able to simulate the dance between the orthosis and the human body,” said Naveed. “The software revealed the contact and pressure points and could predict where problems such as bruising would occur. This has helped us to go from guesswork to a place of deep understanding, allowing us to develop whole new ways to treat a condition & improve that child‘s life.”

Using Altair’s simulation solutions within HyperWorks for dynamic and static analysis, the design team are able to simulate and predict the behavior of the orthosis, and optimize the geometry by morphing the model until the problem is solved. Altair’s simulation solutions allow Andiamo engineers to quickly identify pressure points that would lead pain and discomfort, providing design guidance to help solve the problem at the development stage and produce lightweight devices that are like a second skin to wear.

Once the design is complete, the product is 3D printed to the exact specification of each child and at a fraction of the time and cost compared to the traditional handmade alternative. The result is a lighter, better fitting, more comfortable support that makes a huge difference to their users’ lives and that of their families.

Leg splits and presentation box

Close up of the leg splints

A 3D printed torso brace

Close up of the torso brace

Leg splint with enhanced ankle movement

Finding areas where bruising may occur

“Simulation helps us to understand, find proof and evidence where previously we were just guessing. And it provides the foundation on which you are able to find completely new ways of treating a condition,” said Naveed.

When a family comes to Andiamo to get the 3D printed orthosis, they can go home and be sure that the orthosis will fit, and that there would be no need for another appointment until the child outgrows the device. In the children’s orthotics industry this has caused a revolution: No more bruises, fewer appointments, less stress, and finally, improved quality of life.

Thrilled by the successful application of Altair’s simulation technologies, Andiamo will continue to rely on Altair solutions in the future.

“The pressure to keep the promises that we’ve made weighs heavy but working with people like Altair just makes that journey easier,” said Naveed. “Altair is not only a provider but also a partner, and together we are doing important work - supporting families during their whole journey of caring for a child with movement difficulties. We want to make sure that we provide the best solution to these children, and Altair supports us in reaching this aim.”

Altair is honored to contribute to Andiamo‘s mission of improving the lives of children across the world through the combination of simulation technologies and 3D printing.

About Improving Children's Mobility with Simulation & 3D Printing

Andiamo delivers a medically effective orthosis within 2 weeks of a person’s need globally. Using big data, 3D printing and an advanced clinical service that puts the families first.

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