Prosthetic limb sockets from plant-based composite materials

Andrew Campbell, Sandra Sexton, Carl Schaschke, Harry Kinsman, Brian McLaughlin, Martin Boyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is a considerable demand for lower limb prostheses globally due to vascular disease, war, conflict, land mines and natural disasters. Conventional composite materials used for prosthetic limb sockets include acrylic resins, glass and carbon fibres, which produce harmful gasses and dust in their manufacture. To investigate the feasibility of using a renewable plant oil-based polycarbonate-polyurethane copolymer resin and plant fibre composite, instead of conventional materials, to improve safety and accessibility of prosthetic limb manufacture. Test pieces of the resin with a range of plant fibres (10.0% by volume) were prepared and tensile strengths were tested. Test sockets of both conventional composite materials and plant resin with plant fibres were constructed and tested to destruction. Combinations of plant resin and either banana or ramie fibres gave high tensile strengths. The conventional composite material socket and plant resin with ramie composite socket failed at a similar loading, exceeding the ISO 10328 standard. Both wall thickness and fibre-matrix adhesion played a significant role in socket strength. From this limited study we conclude that the plant resin and ramie fibre composite socket has the potential to replace the standard layup. Further mechanical and biocompatibility testing as well as a full economic analysis is required. Using readily sourced and renewable natural fibres and a low-volatile bio-resin has potential to reduce harm to those involved in the manufacture of artificial limb sockets, without compromising socket strength and benefitting clinicians working in poorer countries where safety equipment is scarce. Such composite materials will reduce environmental impact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Volume36
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • acrylic
  • composite
  • copolymer
  • natural fibres
  • polycarbonate
  • polyurethane
  • renewable
  • resin
  • socket
  • tensile strength

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