Victor the robot brings new orthotic innovations to LOC
Say hello to our newest member of the team – Victor the robot! Victor, manufactured by Rodin4D, is a seven axis CNC (which stands for Computer Numerical Control) milling machine that can mill orthoses in any direction and across any plane. This means that, for the first time, the LOC team will be able to design, model and manufacture trickier and unusual ergonomic orthotics shapes on site at our clinic in Kingston-upon-Thames. Indeed, LOC is only the second location in the UK to acquire a Victor robot.
Traditional milling machines work on fewer axes, making it virtually impossible to mill certain shapes, explains LOC’s lead orthotist Sam Walmsley: “For example, milling neck collars under the chin is particularly tricky, and the foot has a right angle, which is much more difficult to mill. Victor’s arrival gives us the capacity to mill whatever we want.”
For many years LOC has manufactured the majority of the orthoses that it prescribes and fits, since it allows us to keep a close eye on quality control. It also means that our clinicians are closely involved at every stage of the process, helping to make subtle design tweaks to improve the fit and comfort of an orthotic. However, historically we’ve had to send trickier orthoses out to a third-party manufacturer, based in Scotland. But with the number of clients looking for our help with spinal work increasing over the past couple of years, Sam and the team decided it was time to invest in new equipment and skills. “It makes more sense to bring these skills in house,” he explains.
One of the most exciting developments is that LOC will now be able to develop CAD-designed lower limb orthotics on site. “This is why we have bought this particular model,” says Sam. “We make a lot of our own orthoses, but until now we’ve only worked in plaster of Paris. Manufacturing a CAD/CAM ankle foot orthotic [AFO] is a different experience, so this is going to be a great opportunity for our team to learn new skills and offer an even wider range of services to our clients.”
Victor will help the LOC team reduce the amount of time it takes to make an orthotic. When using plaster of Paris, it is important to factor in the cast’s curing and drying time as well as a number of other steps. But with Victor, “we could essentially see a patient for a spinal orthotic assessment in the morning, assess them, scan them, model the orthotic and then manufacture and fit it by early afternoon,” says Sam. “There’s a lot of talk about 3D printing being the next big thing but, at the moment a 3D printer doesn’t have the same degree of flexibility. For instance, we wouldn’t be able to make a spinal jacket. With this machine we can do everything.”
And we’ll also be able to speed up our LOCband design work. “We already manufacture cranial remoulding helmets on site,” says Sam. “But, again, using Victor means that if a patient is coming from a distance, we could scan the baby’s head and have a LOCband fitted the following day. We’re very proud of our skills with our plaster models and moving into this new field is a big step for us, but we’re always looking to increase our skills and find ways to make the experience as efficient as possible for our clients, so this is a really exciting development. The benefits will be huge.”
If you need help or advice on potential orthotics treatment, then don’t hesitate to get in touch.