Finite Element Analysis of Prosthetic Running Blades using Different Composite Materials to Optimize Performance

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the ASME 2014 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE 2014)






A prosthetic limb is an artificial device that replaces missing body part, or parts. Prosthetic limbs are used for many different applications however the application of prosthetic limbs focused in this paper categorized as prosthetic enhancements. Prosthetic enhancements are special prosthetic that allow the patients to participate in more rigorous recreational activities, such as running. These prosthetic limbs now have started to arise in major sporting events like the Olympics. Some researchers say that the legs use only 25% of the energy that an able bodied leg would use.

High performance prosthetic running legs made of carbon fiber, show great advantages over their metal counterparts. Including being lighter and being able to retain more strain energy, current carbon fiber running blades offered by Ossur provide the best performance in the market. In this study, prosthetic racing legs known as blades were analyzed using finite element analysis technique. Performance improvements of these blades were sought by creating mechanical models of the current Ossur products using the finite element analysis software ANSYS and incorporating better performing composite materials into the mechanical simulations. Two different composite materials have taken in consideration by which the legs are created from, these are thermoplastic values for polyethylene epoxy and Vinylester. The use of a new composite material reduces the strain in each of the existing blade geometries, and it permits fewer layers of carbon fiber to be required in the construction of these running blades, which reduces the weight of each leg. Three different blade designs such as Cheetah blade, Flex-Run blade and Flex-Sprint blade have been considered in this study. Also two different loading conditions on the blade such as standing and running conditions have been considered.