Haitian Man Travels to Fargo for Prosthetic Arm
FARGO—A young man from Haiti can thank an army of volunteers, who brought him to Fargo, to get a prosthetic arm.
29-Year old Jacquelin Joseph has been a translator for a local medical team for years when they travel to Haiti.
Jaquelin found himself smack dab in the middle of a workshop, buzzing with tech talk.
The owner-entrepreneurs Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid, with Fargo’s Prosthetics company are measuring and calculating the geometry, physics and human anatomy of Jacquelin’s upper body, in order to fit him with a 3D Printed arm.
“These guys can hit print and go home for the day and print it during the night and you come back in the morning, and the work is done,” said Paul Edman, Altru Certified Prosthetist.
Jacquelin comes from impoverished Haiti, and lives in a village where Fargo Moorhead medical teams perform surgery for the last two decades.
In fact Cooper met Jacquelin on during a recent Fargo Medical Mission trip.
Jacquelin lost his arm in a sugar cane press, similar to our wood chippers.
“I put the sugar cane in and someone said, look out, and I lost my mind,” said Jacquelin.
Jacquelin never let the loss of a limb, limit his work ethic, but some everyday practical things were hard.
“Driving and carrying things, if I get a prosthesis I can do that,” said Jacquelin.
Altru’s Paul Edman, a certified prosthetist from Grand Forks, joined others in donating time and expertise to help Jacquelin get a functional arm.
“If he gets a terminal device, he has grip to lift and carry things,” said Edman.
The Altru team glued, drilled, cut and tweaked the new 3D printed limb, to get a good fit.
“A lot of people think you come in and get a small medium large, and here you go, but everything has to be custom made,” said Edman.
Watching the team from Protosthetics, happy to see technology used to do great things.
“When we started this company, we wanted to make products that help people, and that means not just here, but everywhere,” said Josh Teigen, Protosthetics.
20-years after losing his arm, he was fitted with a socket, elbow, forearm wrist and device he can manipulate with his shoulders, but for Jacquelin a changed life.
Dr. Lance Bergstrom of Fargo helped bring Jacquelin from Haiti.
To learn more about the Haiti Medical Mission, click here.
Donors: Bergstrom Eye and Laser Clinic
By Kevin Wallevand WDAY
Protosthetics and c2renew Partner to Create 3D Printing Filament for Definitive Prosthetic Sockets
What makes 3D printing so interesting—and so downright fascinating—is that it allows individuals and companies of all sizes to create parts and objects that might not be possible at all otherwise. And although we have certainly seen a wide range of 3D printed prosthetics, often with accompanying and incredibly heartwarming stories, there is still much progress to be made in terms of accessibility and affordability for those in need around the globe.
Protosthetics and c2renew, both based in North Dakota, are paving the way for use of a proprietary new material for 3D printing definitive prosthetic sockets with strength and resolution not previously available. The filament will also be used for 3D printing orthotics, offering better comfort and quality of life to countless patients in the future.
Founders Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid have been deeply committed to the wonders of 3D printing, ever since they walked away from other ‘dream jobs’ and went into business together creating Protosthetics. Beginning with a laundry room for a warehouse and then moving on up to a church basement in Minnesota, the founders have now moved their official headquarters to Fargo, ND. There, they are responsible for creating, making, and distributing 3D printed prosthetics and orthotics.
“Today, Protosthetics is pioneering not only the orthotics and prosthetics industry through cutting edge products and services, but also pushing the limits of additive manufacturing (3D printing) itself,” Teigen told 3DPrint.com.
With the 3D printed devices being created in-house, they are able to act as an extension of the clinics they supply. Partnering with c2renew also means that they can be much more involved in the materials end. A market leader in eco-friendly polymer and bio-composite manufacturing technology, c2renew uses proprietary formulations to meet a wide range of engineering specifications. They are also responsible for designing biocomposite material compounds from agriculture byproducts and recycled plastics, as well as offering engineering services to their customers for designing a range of plastic composites.
Protosthetics was so impressed with c2renew’s work in polymer and bio-composite manufacturing that they asked if they would be interested in partnering to create a new filament for 3D printing prosthetics and orthotics. Teigen says that because c2renew was an industry leader in quality and had a dedication to minimal material waste, the Protosthetics team thought they would fit right in with their own company values. An added bonus was in being able to work with another company nearby; in fact, they are just a few miles apart.
“Having a top-tier innovative company like c2renew right down the street is incredibly valuable to our business,” says Teigen. “This new material is something that the market has been wanting for a while, and we couldn’t be more excited to partner with a company like c2renew to be the ones to deliver it to our customers.”
Although we have followed many different 3D printed innovations in both prosthetics and orthotics, it is rare that sockets are mentioned, though there is work being done.
“You commonly hear of two types of sockets: check and definitive. Check sockets are meant for temporary use while definitive sockets are meant for long-term use and require increased time to be spent in the research and development phases,” Teigen told 3DPrint.com.
As the two companies began working on the new filament, they knew that creating a material for 3D printing definitive sockets was their goal. Avoiding the more common base polymers, the two teams came together in creating a combination of industrial polymers and unique strengthening fibers. With this filament, they are making a material offering new properties that will improve and increase safety, usability, and quality of life for patients.
“Partnering with the team at Protosthetics to help advance the great work they do by introducing a new material is great opportunity. It is also really exciting for us to bring things full circle with Protosthetics, as Cooper was one of our first interns,” says Corey Kratcha, c2renew’s Co-Founder and CEO.
The partnership has been a ‘tremendous addition’ to Protosthetics in terms of their manufacturing and services, allowing them to produce high-quality end products for the clinics they currently supply.
“This partnership opens up new doors to possibilities to greatly enhance the role of the practitioners we serve and improve patient care. With this new material, Protosthetics will possess the full suite of capabilities to deliver fully 3D printed definitive sockets to the market. 3D printing is an ever-advancing industry, and the demand for new solutions, materials and applications continues to grow as well,” Cooper Bierscheid, Protosthetics Co-Founder and Primary Engineer, told 3DPrint.com.
“The collaboration of these two organizations allows for continued innovation and improved patient care. The ability to 3D print definitive sockets will help advance the field of orthotics and prosthetics even further, and ultimately improve the lives of patients and the practitioners that serve them.”
By Bridget Butler Millsaps
Office Vibes: Protosthetics
Cooper Bierscheid couldn’t believe what he was hearing when one of his professors told him what it was going to cost to outfit his grand nephew—who was born missing both arms above the elbow—for a pair of prosthetic arms.
Bierscheid, who was an undergraduate in the NDSU College of Engineering at the time and looking for a senior design project, knew he could do better.
So in 2015, after turning down a dream job at 3M in the Twin Cities, he founded Protosthetics, a Fargo-based company that uses 3D printing to create ultra-durable, low-cost prosthetics and orthotics.
He later enlisted serial entrepreneur Josh Teigen to help take the company to the next level, and after a year and a half in Barnesville, Minnesota, in May of this year, Protosthetics moved into a new space on Fourth Street in Downtown Fargo. Teigen gave us a tour of their new(ish) digs.
The building, which sits kitty-corner to Sanford Medical Center in Downtown Fargo, is owned by commercial developer Kilbourne Group and is slated to be demolished in a couple years time. If that happens, Protosthetics will be looking for a new home sooner than later, but Teigen’s okay with it.
“It’s a medium-term solution for us,” he says. “Hopefully we can stay longer, but we’ll see.”
The space used to house Welu Dental Laboratory, a leading manufacturer of dental crowns and gold teeth. The company stored a large amount of gold on site, which was housed in a two-stage vault that held a variety of precious metals.
“We actually cracked the safe,” Teigen says. “Now we say it’s the intern office.”
When you think of a high-tech startup that creates artificial limbs with 3D printers, you probably don’t picture their headquarters in a small, rural town. That’s exactly where they got their start, though, initially leasing a space in Barnesville, Minnesota.
“There are only so many facilities in Barnesville,” Teigen says. “So when we were looking for more space, we came and toured a couple different spots in Fargo. Being here is ideal for recruiting talent and finding workers.
“After we toured this building, we said, you know, we don’t really need a super high-end space. We’re a manufacturing company, don’t have a lot of foot traffic and don’t really have any visitors. We toured this, and it had plenty of space and was kind of perfect for us from a layout standpoint.
As if you needed another reason to get involved in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Fargo, Teigen and Bierscheid were actually introduced to one another by John Machacek, the senior vice president of finance and entrepreneurial development at the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation and an active member of the area startup community.
Early on, when Protosthetics was trying to figure out exactly which segment of the market to focus on, they went around and talked to doctors to find out what they were seeing the greatest need for.
“When we talked to them, they told us that they see one upper-extremity patient per year,” recalls Teigen, who adds that Protosthetics was initially focused on an upper-extremity product. “They told us that the No. 1 request they get is actually for a leg that patients can wear in the shower or a pool or just water wherever. With traditional prosthetics, you can’t wear your primary leg anywhere that can get wet or dirty.”
What they came up with was their flagship product, the Amphibian, which is a below-knee device that works for both daily and recreational activities. They’ve even built custom versions for a professional snowmobiler and a scuba diver.
While no one’s ever going to confuse it for the Ritz-Carlton, Teigen says they’ve made huge strides with the space since they took it over a few months ago.
Instead of purchasing and using existing machines, Protosthetics custom-builds their own 3D printers to the exact specifications and functions they need.
“If you think about one of our sockets, with the machines you buy off the shelf, there’s no way it would fit,” Teigen says. “Also, this pair of foot orthotics printing right now is probably 10 times faster, has a bigger build volume and the parts that come off it are probably 10 times stronger.
“The ability to design and build them ourselves allows us to design and build them specifically to the needs and requirements of orthotics and prosthetics. A lot of the machines you can buy off the shelf are really good for a lot of different purposes. Our machines are way better for our specific use.”
These big, blue boxes are essentially houses for 3D printers.
“They allow us to regulate humidity, temperature and a bunch of different things,” Teigen says. “It helps from a quality standpoint and gives us a little more control over the environment, which is nice.”
The eventual goal, he says, is to create a same-day turnaround for prosthetics and orthotics patients.
“Right now, with other suppliers, the turnaround is weeks,” Teigen explains. “Right now, you have patients coming from out of town—Valley City (North Dakota), for example—driving here for an appointment and then driving back. What we could do is: They’d come in the morning, we would build the prosthetic throughout the day and they’d come pick it up at the end of the day. That’s a huge value-add for the clinic, the patient, everyone.”
There are only a handful right now, but there will eventually be a “printer farm” of 32 “Tallboys” that will fill much of the office’s main space.
“Before I forget, there’s a story behind why we have a giant, four-foot rabbit in the office,” Teigen says. “We play ping-pong and foosball and have power rankings. The way it works is that you can challenge the person above you, and you can only challenge one above you.
“To challenge, you set this giant rabbit on their desk, and they have 15 minutes to accept the challenge. You get one challenge per week in ping pong and one in foosball. You work your way up.”
Teigen says that when he goes to trade shows, he’ll take the sockets and stand on them, sometimes even jumping up and down.
“It’s how we show off the durability of them,” he says.
“This is something that can only be done using 3D printing,” Teigen explains. “You can visually see different areas of pressure in the socket by how much skin is poking through. And the reason we use the diamond shape is that printers can print to a 45-degree angle without any support materials. Per clinic, we do probably one of these per week.”
The Amphibian uses the Boa system, which is more or less a dial-based, ultra-durable shoelace system.
“You can kind of just clamp the leg in for more of an adjustable fit,” Teigen explains. “So when you’re in the shower and need to rinse the residual limb, you just pop the button, pop it out of the socket and then just pop your leg back in. It’s kind of like infinite adjustability.”
Protosthetics: 617 4th St. N, Fargo
By Fargo Inc!
Photos by Paul Flessland & Hillary Ehlen and courtesy of ProtostheticsOriginal Story
Protosthetics Featured in Gate City Bank Commercial
Entrepreneurs build contract manufacturing and 3-D printing central fab facility
After launching Protosthetics in January 2016, founders Josh Teigen and Cooper Bierscheid celebrated their new company by making a 3-D printed myoelectric upper-extremity prosthetic for a four-year-old. They soon discovered that a larger market beckoned for lower- extremity devices, and the company pivoted to become a 3-D printing central fabrication supplier for O&P facilities.
Printing Solutions for Patients
Fargo Manufacturing Facility Creates 3-D Printed Prosthetics, Orthotics
FARGO—The team at a new manufacturing facility here gets by with a little help from their friends Yao, Shaq, Larry, Wilt and Kareem.
That’s not the the interns starting later this week—it’s the NBA player nicknames given to customized 3-D printers that are much taller than standard units on the market.
Height is an important consideration for Protosthetics, a company that designs, makes and distributes devices ranging from waterproof leg prosthetics to orthotic pieces that help with comfort and movement.
Things like a transfemoral socket, which allows above-the-knee amputees to connect to artificial legs, can get too tall to build in a standard 3-D printer.
That’s why the growing startup that moved this spring into its new facility at 617 4th St. N. has printers solely dedicated to printing parts so it can build more Protosthetics Tallboy printers and keep up with demand for its custom prosthetics and orthotics.
Protosthetics will open its doors for an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. Tuesday, May 16.
Protosthetics got its start about 15 months ago, setting up in a small leased space in Barnesville, Minn., that it got after winning a grant.
It quickly outgrew that spot, and Chief Visionary Josh Teigen said the team knew they wanted to come to Fargo. After some searching with Kilbourne Group, they settled on this nearly 9,000-square-foot facility that formerly housed Welu Dental Laboratory.
Teigen, a Fargo native and graduate of the University of North Dakota’s School of Entrepreneurship, had a couple of businesses in the past. It was Protosthetics’ Chief Futurist, Cooper Bierscheid, who told him about the possibilities of using 3-D printers to make prosthetics.
“I was like, ‘Well, that’s way cooler than what I’m doing now,’ ” Teigen said.
They joined forces and launched the company, hiring Chief Swiss Army Knife Derek Holt along the way.
Bierscheid, a native of Watertown, S.D., had a “dream job” offer after earning a manufacturing engineering degree from North Dakota State University, but he turned it down to start this new company.
“My goal has always been to invent products that help people,” he said.
Holt said he left his job at Integrity Windows because he could see the potential with Bierscheid and Teigen.
“Being here, I’m designing two new things today,” he said. “It’s fun and I have direct input.”
That includes making its own version of water legs, solving a problem for millions of Americans. Teigen said traditional prosthetic legs aren’t meant to be worn anywhere they can get wet or dirty, meaning amputees often have to use a shower chair or sit on the floor of the shower.
Their solution, the Amphibian Leg, can be made in around five hours once a scan of the patient is sent by a clinic. The custom devices are durable enough to wear around the beach or during sporting activities, though the primary use is making it easier to shower.
Water legs aren’t covered by health insurance and traditionally are quite expensive, while Protosthetics’ version can get to patients for $1,500 or less.
The team is hard at work these days building more custom printers and kiosks that house each printer. Their goal is to have 35 or so of these kiosks up and running by the end of the summer.
The business also plans to someday lease custom-built printing kiosks directly to clinics. The advantage, they say, is that clinics could print devices in-house, speeding up delivery to patients who need water legs or other products as soon as possible.
“When you think about our end user, mobility is their challenge,” Teigen said.
By Ryan Johnson
Protosthetics Launches Amphibian Leg Prosthetic
Engineering Students Launch Amazing Business
Andrew Dalman is racking up recognition. He’s been named to Forbes magazine’s 30 under 30 list, which recognizes the country’s best and brightest young people, and has opened many doors. Dalman was recognized for developing a patented composition for the production of 3D-printed artificial bones and for helping develop a prosthetic arm for children. He is a graduate student in mechanical engineering, and has already moved on to be CEO of a company called Advanced Bone Technology, which is focused on SimBone, a product designed to look, feel and react like human bone so users can do testing, training and development on something other than a human cadaver or animals.
Now he’s been invited to Vienna for an event called the Pioneers Festival, for the top early-stage start ups around the world. “It’s been a cool adventure. Going from being someone with no ambition to travel when I got into this, now I’ve gone to Boston, Tel Aviv, Boston again, Vienna and I’ll be going to Palo Alto. It went from zero to ‘Holy cats, everything happened at once.'”
Cooper Bierscheid was part of the group with Dalman, and has now founded a company called Protosthetics, working to commercialize the 3D prosthetic. Dalman and Bierscheid were both part ofa student research team that develops new types of dental and bone implants.
Bierscheid won first place in the product category at NDSU’s annual Innovation Challenge, and he has big plans to have an impact in the world. “We want to reduce the acceptable price tag for medical devices so that they are accessible for anyone who needs them, especially in underdeveloped countries,” he says. “Our team is continuing to develop new products. We are working with major prosthetic clinics across the United States to get the devices to people who need them. Our ability to create interchangeable replacement parts allow amputees to feel comfortable wearing their device, instead of being ashamed of it, and allows them to efficiently perform their daily activities.”
Innovating, Providing Hope, and Doing the Most Good
What started as a class project during his undergraduate career has turned into a promising startup for Cooper Biersheid and his business partner, Josh Teigen. Together, Biersheid and Teigen have started Protosthetics, a business that designs affordable, accessible prosthetics with the use of a 3-D printer. Biersheid is in charge of the design while Teigen focuses his energy on the sales aspect of the business. While Protosthetics is still in its early stages, Biersheid and Teigen are hopeful that the business will make enough money and find the right investors in order to do the most good. At the end of the day, their mission is to help the most people – a worthy endeavor for a pair of recent college grads.Pictured from left are Cooper Biersheid, Guest Host Perry Miller, and Josh Teigen.