LimbForge Uses Autodesk Fusion 360 / Forge to Design and Make Customized Prosthetic Limbs

November 14, 2017

Millions of amputees around the world do not have access to prosthetic care. In the developing world, where poverty exacerbates the consequences of limb-loss, fewer than 5% of amputees have access to prosthetic rehabilitation. This situation is compounded even further by the lack of approximately 40,000 trained prosthetists to serve all of those in need. To make matters worse, in some parts of the world, rejection by society (including family) is common for amputees. The severe stigma cast upon the disabled or disfigured in these regions can be psychologically, physically, and economically debilitating — even life-threatening.

LimbForge, a nonprofit made up of industry experts in prosthetics, 3D printing, health policy, design, and software development, is addressing the shortage of prosthetic care and social challenges amputees face by using their combined expertise to explore new frontiers in prosthetic device manufacturing. Low cost and easy customization/fabrication are critical to deliver prosthetic limbs to those who need them most.

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A Haitian prosthetist evaluates a LimbForge 3D-printed prosthetic at a clinic, Healing Hands for Haiti, in Port Au Prince.

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LimbForge designs prosthetics that address a patient's greatest perceived loss.

Autodesk Forge is our collection of Application Program Interfaces (APIs) that we use to develop our own web services. As part of our Forge efforts, we share those APIs (including documentation and code samples) with customers and 3rd party developers (the Forge community) that want to leverage years' worth of legacy and current data associated with projects. LimbForge is a member of the Forge community.

Using Autodesk Fusion 360 APIs, the LimbForge team developed software to configure custom prosthetic components for 3D printing, making it possible for other non-governmental organizations and clinicians to deliver high-quality and cost-effective 3D-printed prosthetics to populations that need them the most.

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LimbForge's Upper Limb System (ULS)™ was developed using a dual social/technical design process where they work with patients, caregivers, and clinic administrators to develop culturally-appropriate designs. The designs are then integrated into LimbForge so that they can be deployed in a scalable, measurable way.

The LimbForge ULS targets the following use cases:

  • Seamless CAD to Configurator Workflow
    "As a Prosthetist Engineer, I want my designs to be seamlessly integrated with LimbForge so that Clinicians can easily customize and print the designs to serve the individual patient needs."

  • Prosthetic Device Configuration Experience
    "As a Clinician provisioning amputees with prosthetic devices, I need to be able to navigate all the options in LimbForge, make my selections, and then size/configure them for download."

  • Designer/Clinician Forking a Module
    "As a designer/clinician, I would like to be able to get access to source CAD for a module so that I can better adapt it to my patient's needs. I can easily make an edit to the original design without installing a CAD application or buying extra hardware."

With these uses cases in mind, in addition to using existing Forge APIs, the LimbForge team worked with Autodesk on a proof of concept using Forge work that is currently under development:

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Autodesk's Brian Roepke talked about what's coming in Forge as part of the DevCon opening keynote

  • Forge Integrated Development Experience

    For less technical users or companies who lack development teams/software development resources but who need to build web applications to solve their daily design challenges, we're building the Forge Integrated Development Experience that not only offers rich design tools built upon our application framework components. The Integrated Development Experience helps users easily and quickly build applications such as: design customization and visualization, CAD to Configurator conversion, or the ability to edit designs directly in the browser.

  • Forge Application Framework Software Development Kit (SDK)

    For technical and developers who need to build advanced applications or custom workflows, we're creating the Forge Application Framework SDK that contains rich and reusable components to be consumed by any application or workflow such as Asset Management, 3D viewer, Rendering, and Real Time modeling.

The highlights of the collaboration include:

  • Interactive, Fusion Compatible Web Modeling

    • Cloud-based live modeling with exposed user parameters
    • Any Fusion design stored on A360 can be used in the configurator
    • Fusion Web integration for editing in the browser
  • 3D Visualization and Realistic Rendering

    • Image-based lighting
    • Physically-based materials (PRISM)
    • 3D navigation tools
  • STL Export with ZIP Compression

    • Fast and cost effective transcoding and compression, directly in the browser

Though this is still a work-in-progress, the benefits to date include:

  • Seamless and Secure CAD to Configurator Workflow
  • Easy-to-Use Interactive Visual Configuration Experience
  • Integrated CAD Editing Experience
  • Backend Support for Patient Data Management, History, and Versioning
  • Access on any Device — no installation nor heavy hardware

For LimbForge, this new era is about more than replacing limbs — it's about helping people rejoin communities, rebuild confidence, and rediscover lost activities. The work of LimbForge is inspiring, and Autodesk is proud that Autodesk Forge can be part of the solution.

If you wish to help, you can visit the LimbForge Donate page.

Thanks to Forge Marketing Manager, Nelle Sacknoff and Senior Product Manager for Cloud Platforms, Lior Gerling, who helped author this blog post.

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Scott Sheppard
Program Manager

Program Manager in the Office of the CTO