Published on 15 Dec 2021

3D printing leads to light-weight knee brace for the elderly

Asst Prof Chan Wai Lee, Joel Lim, Dr Jeffery Chew and Delsson ED Fabian Ong

A lighter, yet more robust knee brace for the elderly who suffer from knee problems has been developed locally by Singapore engineering firm Delsson, in a collaboration with 3D printing specialists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

Using 3D printing techniques – also known as additive manufacturing - the team has managed to reduce the weight of a traditional exoskeleton knee brace (typically built using metal) by 30 per cent, thanks to an innovative design that uses lightweight plastic and assistive springs.

In 2017, it was reported that 20 per cent of the elderly in Singapore aged 60 and above suffer from chronic pain, with 40% of people above the age of 70 will develop knee osteoarthritis.

Based on a prototype assistive orthopaedic brace 3D-printed by NTU scientists, Delsson and the Centre for Orthopaedics in Singapore have developed a unique product, named X-Brace, which looks similar to the sleek knee brace used by Batman in the movie, The Dark Knight Rises.

This designed-in-Singapore knee brace, which has just been launched in the market, will benefit elderly patients who often need help to alleviate the burden on their joints, helping them to climb stairs, unlike the rest of the knee braces in the regional market.

It can also benefit patients who have undergone knee replacement surgery or reconstruction of torn ligaments in their rehabilitation and recovery.

The research collaboration is supported by the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) and demonstrates how Singapore’s strong R&D capabilities can transform conventional products and give a boost to the competitiveness of our local SMEs.

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