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Getting Started with 3D Printing Orthotics (Step 3): Practice getting good scans

Updated: Dec 19, 2022

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Capturing good scans is fundamental to achieving optimal fit and function, and the first skill orthotists new to digital workflows need to gain competency with.

You’ll want to ensure you are confident you can get a good scan first go with a client. There is nothing worse than realizing you need to re-scan after your client leaves the room. So practice on anyone who's willing – kids, family, neighbours, colleagues – before clients.

What makes a good scan?

It's all about surface, shape and accuracy. We need the scan/mesh to be as “smooth” and clean as possible while still retaining all the anatomical features that are required in the AFO.

Make sure:

  • The entire surface is scanned - A quality scan has no holes/openings, except at the top and toe. And the scan / mesh should go from just below the knee to the tip of the toes.

  • The scan accurately reflects the limb - the scan should retain all the anatomical features that are required in the AFO.

  • The scan is "smooth" - Have no extraneous lumps/bumps/depressions in any area included in the AFO.

  • The scan is "clean" - There are no messy edges or joins, and no abrupt change in geometry that does not match the actual geometry of the limb. Disjointed “accidentally” scanned objects, such as parts of the bench etc are OK. As long as they do not touch the scan of the leg.

How do you know when a scan is good enough? Some of the words above sound like technical jargon?

Breathe easy. We've got you covered.

We know scanning isn’t easy in the beginning. So while you’re still getting the hang of it, we provide you with support and guidance as you gain confidence.

We have a clean scan guide you can reference, which takes you through how to get a good scan in more detail.

During onboarding we'll explain the clean scan guide and our process for checking the quality of your scans before anything is designed or printed.

We can provide quick feedback on your practice scans when you're in this phase, even if you're not printing anything.

This means knowing you’re on the right track and will help you know when you're ready to see clients and can confidently get products printed that are representative of your client’s limb.

What’s Our Take?

A systematic repeatable scanning pathway is the key here, and the scanner distributor will show you the best pathway for their scanner. In general, they aren’t too dissimilar.

Here are a few words of advice from Lisa Dodds, our Clinical Facilitator and Resident Orthotist, and seasoned digital fabrication guru.

“When I first started, I wanted to throw the scanner through the window as I couldn't get it to work after training and had way too many things on my “to-do list” to not have it working. I told the distributor their scanner was terrible and that I shouldn't have spent the money on it 😖 . They patiently went through the pathway again and checked if I was following it. And true enough, I wasn’t. I adjusted the pathway, and boom, I could get a good scan! If you are getting frustrated and hear that other people just pick up scanning with no issues, don't worry! I struggled too (I am slightly uncoordinated in life). Building new neural pathways can be challenging for some of us 🙂. Now when I try out a new scanner I go and have a try, and if I get stuck, I quickly ask for help (without blaming the product 😄 ) and quickly adapt.”

So there you go! Hopefully things are clearer and you now feel more confident getting started.

We’re here to help if you have any questions too. Just drop us a line at, or ask us on LinkedIn.


Completed Steps 1 to 3?

You're all set to go! Just book in an onboarding session and we’ll get you familiarized with our platform. Onboarding only takes up to an hour, and you’ll be off to a flying start in no time!

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