Eva de Goede, three-time Olympic field field hockey champion with the Netherlands, broke her wrist shortly before the 2021 European Championship. Not wanting to leave one of its best players on the bench, the Dutch team tried to find solutions to heal the captain and allow her to play. The key once again lies in 3D printing: thanks to a custom 3D printed brace, placed after surgery, Eva de Goede was able to rejoin her team in time for the championship and lead them to victory.
This is not the first time that additive manufacturing has assisted the world of sports, whether in cycling, long-distance running or soccer. It allows the design of devices, accessories or equipment that can be fully adapted to the morphology of an athlete or an amateur sportsman. Comfort is improved and performance is enhanced.
A collective effort
For the realization of this particular prosthesis, several actors came together. In order to perfectly fit the athlete’s hand, it was scanned by the Dutch company Centrum Orthopedie (CO). The scan was then shared with Artus 3D, a specialist in 3D hand orthotics, who created a 3D model of the brace. A special design called the “Sizoo dynamic wrist brace 2.0” had already been developed in 2020 by the company, in collaboration with Saskia Sizoo, and served as the basis for the brace, facilitating the development of the medical device. This design is especially designed for people with recurring wrist problems and thus accelerate rehabilitation.
The 3D model was finally printed by Beamler, a 3D printing service, and all in record time: the brace was ready in just one day. The team captain was able to return to the courts in fine form with her brand new brace, beating Germany 2-0 in the final to win the eleventh EuroHockey title – the third in a row for the Dutch women’s team, a historic achievement for the team.
A daring but successful gamble
Designing this brace was not easy. Indeed, this kind of brace needs to be flexible enough for the wearer’s comfort, while also needing to have the right mechanical properties so that the joint cannot move too much. The only material that fulfills these characteristics is TPU, which was used to make Eva de Goede’s brace. As for the printing process, Multi Jet Fusion was chosen as it is known to offer a fast production with a clean visual appearance and solid integrity. This process is one of the reasons why the athlete’s brace was designed so quickly and at a relatively affordable price compared to other 3D printing methods.
Voted player of the tournament, the Dutch midfielder couldn’t have asked for anything better: “It was an amazing experience to be able to play, and to win on Dutch soil with a live audience! I am so grateful we were able to achieve this, it’s one of my more precious victories. I owe this gold medal to the quick rehabilitation process with Saskia and the fast orthosis production.” The team can now breathe easy and prepare with confidence for the Tokyo Olympics.
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