Ottobock Uses 3DEXPERIENCE Platform to Lend a Helping Hand
Prosthetics have long been helping people with missing limbs to regain their freedom and independence, and live their lives as self-sufficiently as possible. Today’s prostheses are complex mechanical systems that help wearers move safely and naturally in the hopes of seamlessly mimicking the complex movements of the human body — movements many people often take for granted. Using Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, German prosthetic company Ottobock redesigned its most advanced prosthetic hand yet — the Michelangelo — to function as a natural limb as closely as possible.
Despite acknowledging that nature is more advanced in its design of body functionality than technological developments, Michael Kornfeind, head of mechanical R&D 2 at Ottoboock Healthcare Products GMbH, has stressed that creating a natural design is as important as functionality and quality. “It is important that the person identifies with his prosthesis and feels that it is a natural part of his body,” he explained. “The prosthesis must be as natural as possible and in accordance with the way the person moves.”
The greatest challenge in the new Michalangelo was ensuring that neither the technical requirements nor the natural shape of the product were compromised. As Kornfeind put it, the form was ultimately dictated by nature. Previous CAD systems used in the design process had reached their limits, but the Otto Bock team found success by leveraging the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, in particular for surface modeling. CATIA Imagine & Shape, which is able to account for surface curve continuity, was used in the redesign process to design a more realistic-looking exterior.
The software offered designers the ability to manipulate the surfaces at the control points, making the process more precise. “The software is very intuitive,” Kornfeind explained. “It enables our designers to be creative and at the same time close to nature. The ability to directly manipulate surfaces is very important.”
The result is a more-innovative-than-ever prosthetic hand with implications that go beyond aesthetics. The underlying technology has also improved as a result of the redesign. When the prosthetic hand senses muscle movement, an electrical current is emitted and transmitted, allowing the device to move like a real hand. Among other features, the Michelangelo boasts active and passive rotation, seven different grip types, the ability to return to a natural rest position when not actively being used and the world’s first prosthetic thumb that can be positioned electronically.
Together, the look and capabilities of the redesigned Michelangelo create a versatile and precise device that is ready and able to assist those in need in complex, day-to-day tasks.