Project Circleg is developing an appropriate lower-limb prosthetic system designed for the needs and circumstances of amputees in developing countries. Globally the demand for affordable prosthetics is high, yet a satisfactory system has been lacking up to now. Project Circleg aims at closing this gap with an innovative approach: by using recycled plastic waste and simple production methods, the Circleg prosthetic system can be produced locally and cost-effectively. By distributing the prosthetic leg units, providing an adjustment and repair service as well as educational services, Project Circleg aspires to generate income to be a self-sustaining social enterprise whereas any revenue generated by the sale and service of the prosthetic system shall be returned to the company for further development. By using a distribution model that is based on the circular economy, a local value chain will be created. By offering an affordable, high-functional and unique prosthetic solution, Project Circleg wants to enable amputees to live healthy, productive, independent, dignified lives and to participate in education, the labour market and social life. The recycling of plastic waste adds value to the economy by transforming waste into a tradable resource and the local recycling, production and assembling of the Circleg prosthetic system creates jobs in the country of impact (current focus on Kenya and Uganda) and secures the livelihood for local people and their families.
Project Circleg is currently in the development phase of the product intending to patent, certify and having the Circleg prosthetic system ready for use and distribution.
What is special about the project?
Compared to other solutions, the Circleg is unique in three innovative aspects being the high functionality and comfort, affordability and sustainability.
By high functionality and comfort, we mean the reproducibility of the biomechanical characteristics of the physiological limb, to fulfill the aesthetics, environmental and cultural requirements and needs of amputees in the countries of implementation. The Circleg consists of two adapters, a knee joint, a pylon and a foot with an ankle joint. The two adapters enable the individual adaptation to the body alignment of the user, allowing a proper fitting and use of the prosthesis. The ankle joint allows a squatting position and thus, the use of a squat toilet, which is common in many developing countries. The polycentric knee joint is equipped with a protective cap and a mechanism which swings the leg forward while walking to allow a kneeling position and prevent dangerous trip hazards. Thanks to the use of recycled polypropylene, the Circleg below-knee prosthesis for adults only weighs 1.5 kg – substantially less than existing low-cost prostheses and therefore significantly improving comfort.
Of central importance for the affordability is the user-centered design: the modularity ensures the individual adaptation of the Circleg prosthetic system to the user in terms of size, level of activity and colour while reducing the price and time required for the production and repair of parts. This is possible due to the combination, in the prosthetic system, of standard parts that confer a solid and stable structure and of adaptable parts that are easier to exchange and to replace. Moreover, the local access to the materials and on-site manufacturing of the prosthesis allows a lower dependence on material availability and contribute to the local economy. This is also an essential aspect regarding the circular economy which is the sustainable aspect of Project Circleg. The low-cost, high-quality and local production will be done in collaboration with local recycling and production companies in the countries of implementation and set the basis for a product meeting the global standards established by the WHO.
Project Circleg has successfully developed a functional prototype of the Circleg prosthetic system which was tested in several iterations. Three different testing methodologies have been performed: (1) the feedback of users and orthopaedic technicians, (2) the structural testing in static and dynamic conditions and (3) analysis with engineering software. However, the development has not yet been completed. In the coming period, the functional Circleg prototype will be optimised and industrialised for series production.
With Project Circleg, we participated in various events to enhance visibility and to share our story. This was also taken up and published by different media as well as on social media. In the meantime, the Project Circleg team has grown to 8 people with different professional backgrounds.
Lukas Drosten, swissfuture – Magazin für Zukunftsmonitoring: Zukunft der Behinderung November 2019, Ganzheitlicher Ansatz zur selbstbestimmten Mobilität;
Rahel Egli, Master Thesis at ETH Zurich, September 2019, Development of a concept for an appropriate prosthetic knee joint in the context of low-income countries.
OnlineSchweizer Radio und Fernsehen SR
, 20.11.2019, Serie: 10vor10 «Klub Konstruktiv» Teil 1Scientifica – Zürcher Wissenschaftstage
, September 2019, From Plastic Waste to Affordable Lower Limb ProstheticsSchweizer Radio und Fernsehen SRF
, 29.08.2019, Problem: Teure Prothesen - Lösungsidee: Prothesen aus Plastikmüll 9. Juli 2019Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA
, 19.06.2019, Engagierte, innovative junge Köpfe und 92 Projekte für eine nachhaltige Entwicklungtbd* – The Changer GmbH
, 12.06.2019, Auf beiden Beinen - Die Mission von Project Circleg ist es, günstige Prothesen aus Kunststoffabfällen herzustellenDie Ostschweiz
, 26.04.2019, Geld- und Zeitsegen für St.Galler KunstschaffendeUBS in Society
, 26.03.2019, Transforming plastic waste into life changersAsianpaints
, 22.03.2019, Plastics 2.0: Here’s how Project Circleg is enabling accessibility with plastic prosthetics, Zürcher & Partner
, 08.03.2019, Prothesen aus recyceltem KunststoffSimpaul Design
, 06.03.2019, How Project Circleg Impacts Local Community In Kenya With Recycled Plastic WasteVisual Atelier 8
, 21.02.2019, Project Circleg Turns Recycled Plastic Into Low-Cost ProstheticsCNN Money Switzerland
, 14.02.2019, Turning plastic waste into prosthetic legs
Swissfuture, Magazin für Zukunftsmonitoring, Ganzheitlicher Ansatz zur selbstbestimmten Mobiltät, November 2019
St. Galler Tagblatt, 13.08.2019, Er designt Prothesen aus Kunststoffabfall
The Redbulletin Innovator, März 2019
Booster, das interaktive Magazin für Start-ups, Investoren und Innovation, Eine neue Geschichte für Prothesen, Wir wollen eine positive Geschichte erzählen, Februar 2019
Reha Treff, Das Magazin für Menschen mit Mobilitätseinschränkung, Müll schafft Innovation, März 2019
enorm, Zukunft fängt bei Dir an, Neue Beine aus Altem Kunststoff, Juli 2019
FRaU, (Tokjo, Japan), August 2019
ORTHOPÄDIE TECHNIK, Fachmagazin, September 2019
Persons involved in the project
, Project Manager and Co-FounderSimon Oschwald
Laura Magni, product development
Lukas Drosten, project management and partnerships
Alex Spoerndli, communication & social media
Daniel Vafi, strategy & product development
Christina Bibawi, business development
Matthias Grawehr, business development
Last update to this project presentation 27.01.2020