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Vol. 37 No. 4, July/August 2000

Experimental and numerical predictions of the ultimate strength of a low-cost composite transtibial prosthesis

Jill Hahl, MS and Minoru Taya, PhD

Center for Intelligent Materials and Systems, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-2600

Abstract — Saito et al. (Modern Plastics 1997;74:175-7) have developed a low-cost transtibial prosthesis made of fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP). The prosthesis is comprised of an aluminum pylon, a cosmetic cover, and a constant cross-section composite foot into which aluminum supports are screwed to increase load-bearing capacity. Replacing these supports with a single integrated FRP stiffener significantly reduced manufacturing cost while providing high strength, great durability, and smooth walking. The optimal location and orientation of the proposed FRP stiffener were determined by finite element (FE) analysis. When a replica of this component was tested according to ISO standard 10328, the experimental prosthesis catastrophically failed under 6600 N of force. Maximum percent error of strain between experimental and numerical results was 18.6%, showing good correlation between the two data sets. The optimized design provides sufficient strength and reduces the cost of manufacturing and thus can be used to replace the original design.

Key words: composite, finite element analysis, prosthesis, transtibial.

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