Comparison of a Natural Fibre Based Composite Prosthetic Foot with a Carbon Fibre Prosthetic Foot for Use in Low-Income Countries

Melanie Simons

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis


There is a large and growing number of lower limb amputees across the globe. In the Western world, the main cause is diabetes, whereas in low-income countries, wars and residual landmines are a major contributor. Many lower limb amputees in these low-income countries do not have access to a prosthetic device mainly due to their unaffordable cost.
State-of-the-art prosthetic devices are constructed from carbon fibre, which exhibits the ideal characteristics of being lightweight, stiff and durable, but unfortunately this comes at great financial cost. Natural fibre based composites may offer an affordable alternative material for prosthetic manufacture. However, in order to obtain the high-performance such as that seen with the carbon fibre prosthetic devices, the design is key to its success.
In this study, a prosthetic foot prototype was produced from birch veneer with a similar design to that of a commercially available carbon fibre prosthetic foot. Static proof tests were carried out according to BS EN ISO 10328:2006. In addition, the deformation under these loads was tracked using Photoshop software. The results of the natural fibre and carbon fibre prosthetic feet were then compared.
The overall observation was found to be that the natural fibre prosthetic foot was considerably stiffer compared to the carbon fibre prosthetic foot. In an attempt to increase its flexibility, two thinner natural fibre prosthetic feet were constructed and tested, but without successful outcomes.
The initial natural fibre prosthetic foot produced did comply with BS EN ISO 10328:2006 for the static proof test up to test loading level P5. Even though more extensive research is to be carried out regarding its design, it shows considerable potential for low-cost, high-performance prosthetic manufacture for low-income countries.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
  • Buis, Arjan, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • prosthetic feet
  • ISO
  • low income countries
  • middle income countries
  • BOP
  • natural fibre


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