Brace Yourself: 3D Printed Ankle Device Promises to Axe Sprains
EXO-L® lets you 3D scan and 3D print a strong and flexible ankle brace to prevent sprains
Currently, athletes use conventional braces constructed with metal and nylon, or athletic tape, to immobilize their joints and prevent sprains. Unfortunately, traditional methods can be problematic; braces are often uncomfortable and restrict flexibility, while tape is difficult to apply, often irritates the skin and becomes expensive when used frequently. Most athletes are forced to shave their ankles prior to application and that process alone can be painful and time consuming.
Netherlands based EXO-L® (short for External Ankle Ligament), developed by Delft University of Technology and the Erasmus Medical Centre, is neither tape nor a brace; it is a patented, 3D printed external ligament that cleverly mimics the anatomy and natural motion of the ankle to prevent it from twisting.
On their site, the owners modestly suggest that you would never sprain your ankles again after switching to the product.
The Erasmus Medical Centre explains that the team developing the EXO-L® sought to find a solution which supports the ankle as much as possible when there is a risk of it being sprained, but at the same time provides an optimum sense of freedom. The product will not be activated as long as your ligaments remain within the normal range for their sport. There is also an option of customizing the EXO-L® by engraving your logo, name and even choosing the color to suit your needs.
Every EXO-L® product is custom-made using a 3D scan of the athlete’s ankle and innovative 3D printing technology to produce the ligament. Positioned just above the ankle, over the Achilles tendon, It’s fastened by strapping into a special patch on the outside of your shoe (which can also be ordered on their site).
After your order has been placed, the team provides assistance with your perfect 3D scan and manufactures a fitting EXO-L® External Ankle Ligament using their high-quality 3D printer in a matter of weeks. They even save the scan and link it to your personal account so you can order as many as you’d like without returning to the scanner.
Currently this service is only available in the Netherlands and each EXO-L® brace is reasonably priced at €199 (about $235 USD).