Delcam CAD/CAM Boosts Blatchford Orthotics Output

Delcam has revealed that its Orthomodel design and manufacturing software has enabled Blatchford to boost its orthotics output. The system has also allowed Blatchford to increase its quality and consistency, and so improve the quality of life for the people who rely on the company to provide the best treatment for their health-related problems.

David Bownes, production manager at the main orthotics manufacturing site in Sheffield, said: 'We first moved into CAD/CAM eight years ago. 'The aims were to reduce lead times, improve accuracy and, at the same time, offer our customers repeatability. 'Our main objective was to reduce the amount of time we spend hand carving so we could increase our productivity and improve our quality, while offering our technicians a better environment to work in. 'We heard about the Orthomodel system from our colleagues, who had previously used this type of software, and with that recommendation we decided to give it a try,' he added.

The software was trialled with a group of specialist orthotists before being considered for general introduction. After several months of trials, Blatchford moved into full production with the Delcam software in February 2009 following positive feedback from the technicians. An important part of the decision was the user interface for the Delcam software. Bownes said: 'We decided to re-skill our existing technicians rather than bringing in CAD/CAM engineers because we needed people that could recognise whether or not the finished product was correct.

'Even though they had little experience of computerised manufacturing, they found the Delcam software to be very user-friendly. 'The biggest benefits come when producing a series of orthotics as the patient moves along the clinical treatment path, for example, the progressive reduction of a problem after an accident or sports injury. 'It is much easier to adjust the existing data rather than constantly recasting designs from the patient's foot.

'It also avoids the storage issue with large numbers of casts,' he added. Bownes said: 'We have co-operated closely with Delcam staff to select the best cutting tools and machining strategies. 'In addition, we are happy to work with Delcam on new additions to the software to take it to the next level. 'The latest release offers more flexibility, for example, the ability to manipulate the foot shape in seconds. 'Also, some clinicians prefer to use the option of measurements using the system's data library of shapes and this can save time in the production process,' he added.


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