The Dutch national hockey team very nearly found themselves without a captain recently, when triple Olympic medallist Eva de Goede fractured her wrist a mere two months before the start of the 2021 European Championship.
For mere mortals like ourselves, a broken wrist can take many weeks (and months) to heal properly. But for a pro-athlete approaching a tournament, a long recovery time was not an option.
Thanks to the wonders of 3D scanning and MJF additive manufacturing, de Goede was not only able to lead her team through the tournament to ultimate victory (scoring three goals herself), but was also given the Player of the Tournament award for her efforts.
In order to accelerate the rehabilitation process, de Goede worked closely with Saskia Sizoo, a hand/physiotherapist at Maasstad Hospital, and also the Centrum Orthopedic, Rotterdam, to design and print a custom wrist brace.
You can see the evolution of the brace, from 3D scan to victory, in the image below.
Centrum Orthopedic took scans of her hand and wrist before sending the scans to local company Artus3D, who cleaned up the scans with their proprietary hand-orthoses scanning software.
The software allows customisation of scans such as removing noise, patching up holes and modifying scan geometry, creating a manufacturable file to be exported for 3D printing.
For the task of 3D printing, the designers sent the cleaned up and optimised files off to Beamler.com, who has an online on-demand platform which offers the most suitable production solution via the Beamler network.
Braces have very strict specifications, they should have excellent mechanical properties to prevent the articulation from shifting but should also be flexible at room temperature for more comfort.
To this end, they opted to use TPU material and the HP Multi Jet Fusion process which offered the right balance of comfort, elasticity and strength for these requirements.
“It was an amazing experience to be able to play, and to win on Dutch soil with a live audience!,” said de Goede.
“I owe this gold medal to the quick rehabilitation process with Saskia and the fast orthosis production. When I broke my wrist I didn’t yet dare to dream of this, but I aimed for the 1% chance that it could happen.”
The ultimate 2-0 against Germany in the finals meant their 11th win, and third consecutive EuroHockey Championship title for the Dutch women’s team.
Indeed, it’s been a good result for not only the Dutch national team but for the local AM ecosystem with Dutch companies all contributing to the manufacture of the brace.
“I am so grateful we were able to achieve this, it’s one of my more precious victories,” confirmed de Goede.
“It’s been a life-changer for me, so I can recommend the Sizoo dynamic brace to anybody dealing with the same type of injury. I know you’ll be able to achieve many more great things with it. I can now look forward to the Olympic Games in Tokyo, I feel my team is well-prepared for it.”