Lower Saxony supports innovation project with up to one million euros
Minister for Economic Affairs Dr. Bernd Althusmann presents the grant agreement for iFab4.0 at the headquarters in Duderstadt
The iFab4.0 innovation project by Ottobock has been awarded a grant of up to one million euros from the innovation support program of the federal state of Lower Saxony. The international medtech company will use the grant to advance customised patient fittings using digital processes and 3D printed products. The state provides pro rata support for personnel and material costs.
During the presentation of the grant agreement, the Lower Saxony Minister for Economic Affairs Dr. Bernd Althusmann commended the project: "I am very pleased with this globally important initiative. The future of orthopaedic technology is digital. Together with its partners, Ottobock sustainably improves treatment and strengthens Lower Saxony as a business location. As the state government, we therefore support the development of such innovations."
Digital processes mean more time for the essentials – the users
"We are delighted with this grant support," said Professor Hans Georg Näder, owner and chairman of Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA. "It will help us in southern Lower Saxony in the further digital optimisation of treatment."
"With iFab4.0, Ottobock is developing a continuous digital process chain of the fitting process," explained Philipp Schulte-Noelle, CEO of Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA. "We develop solutions that make it possible for our orthopaedic technology customers to take more time for essentials – the users."
"Digital twins of the users play a key role in this," elaborated Güngör Kara, CDO of Ottobock SE & Co. KGaA. The body scan is replacing more and more manual processes, such as measurements and plaster casting. The O&P professional then designs the computer-aided model of an orthosis or prosthesis. This is followed by the automated, digital 3D printed fabrication of the customised device for the user. "Even the simulation of the success of the fitting will be digital in the future, sparing the patient multiple fittings and trial fittings," stated Kara. "Algorithms and artificial intelligence make it possible."
While this may sound simple, there are challenges that Ottobock hopes to resolve with iFab4.0. For example: O&P professionals increasingly use 3D scanners to measure body parts – but in the subsequent modelling process, they still have to use software that is seldom tailored to the requirements of orthopaedic technology. This limits the possibilities for creating a digital twin.
The grant support by the state of Lower Saxony provides assistance with the implementation of the Ottobock innovation project. From the company headquarters in Duderstadt, iFab4.0 links national and international digital fabrication sites. The result: "Thanks to our scan-to-walk initiative, users and patients across the globe can be quickly supplied with customised fittings," Kara pointed out.