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+/- Brace

+/- Brace is a user-centered, fully customisable elbow brace that is produced by combining additive 3d printing and subtractive laser-cutting technology.


Case Study


+/- Brace is a pain relieving elbow brace, promoting comfort and reducing the risk of injury or irritation during demanding physical tasks or sport activities.

© Copyright by Jana Gautier

Conventional medical products are either expensive or non-individualized. With the +/- Brace app the user can easily customize size, form, structure and padding. Taking the users data and existing users measurements into account, the scripted algorithm calculates the optimal design for your personalized +/- Brace. The user could then either fabricate the brace on their own, order it within the maker community, or proceed with buying the brace on the platform.

Being able to offer customized products, 3D printing and laser cutting provides flexibility in design and allows on-demand manufacturing and production.

© Copyright by Jana Gautier

The process from input to output

Utilizing Grasshopper with a custom built script, we input body measurements as parameters to generate data output for our FDM printer and the laser cutter.

It enables a user-centered, generative exploration, and a responsive design approach, aligned with open-source principles.

Combining 3d printing and laser cutting in one device, complex shapes and structures can be produced that would be difficult to realize with conventional manufacturing methods.

Studying subtractive material processing

To find the optimal pattern that is breathable and flexible, many different iterations that were generated using our grasshopper scripts were laser-cut, tested and evaluated.

In the search of the best suited material, over 70 different fabric types were tested. To achieve good cutting results, improve precision and reduce waste, all laser-cutting settings needed to be optimized.

The chosen four-way stretch softshell fabric, composed of 49% Polyester, 30% Polyamide, 12% Polyurethane, and 9% Elastane, weighing 380 g/m2, offers multiple benefits for an elbow brace.

© Copyright by Jana Gautier

It provides a comfortable and flexible fit and ensures unrestricted movement while offering excellent support and stability to the elbow joint. Its fiber composition makes it durable, breathable and therefore an ideal choice for everyday sports and injury rehabilitation.

Additive material studies

A range of FDM-printed pads were developed and iterated, utilizing TPU filament with a shore hardness of 98A. Using a TPMS Gyroid gradient structure as an infill, the final product has characteristics of materials like foam or gel.

Looking for the best fit

Finding the optimal fit was about balancing various fabric properties with the corresponding cutting algorithm.

"This process and performance driven project led to the development of a new production process and resulted in a unique product aesthetic, paving the way for a range of new products."

Nils Sorger

© Copyright by Jana Gautier
© Copyright by Jana Gautier

Improving and enhancing efficiency in 3D printed fabric-based manufacturing and embracing an open source process ultimately resulted in the creation of affordable individualized braces for people in need of them.

© Copyright by Jana Gautier

This project was developed together with Nils Sorger as an Applied Research Project during his internship.