Scan to print – New era to produce insoles

May 27, 2022
4 min

The international trade show and world congress, OT World, was held from May 10th to May 14th in Leipzig, Germany. As the biggest show in the orthotic and prosthetic industry, you could find many halls with different exhibiting companies. Among them, an entire hall was dedicated to insoles production, and we could see a recurring trend regarding the technologies that companies are using: 3D printing. Indeed, additive manufacturing is very useful when thinking of insoles fabrication because it is fast, eco-friendly and cheaper than other solutions. In this article, we will look at two different options that companies are using when digitizing their process.

Production made by CFabs/Labs

From our exploration at the show, we could see two different options for producing insoles using 3D printers.

Option number one would be to scan and print one pair of insoles at a time. It takes about 1h30 to achieve this option and the required 3D printer is small enough that it could fit in a production room within a clinic. Integrating it into your office would be very interesting when running a clinic. Imagine, you could have an appointment with a patient on Monday, perform the biomechanics exam, 3D scan the patient’s feet, and immediately start your insoles production. The patient would be able to come back the next day to receive the insoles e ordered. Arkad, from Rodin4D is a good example using scan to print. Clinicians scan the patient’s feet using their iPhone’s TrueDepth camera and after designing the insole using their CAD/CAM solution, production begins.

The other option would be for a central fab to have large 3D printers and produce a big batch at a time. To achieve this, they must receive 3D files from their clients and create the insole from the received files using CAD/CAM software. Once the file is ready, it can go into production. Large printers can print several pairs of insoles at once and it takes up to 12h to achieve this. Once printed, the CFabs/Laboratories send the insoles back to their clients so they can give them to their patients. Invent Medical has a great integrated process using this option. Their 8sole solution allows you to enter all the required patient information, then scan the patient’s feet, and design the insole directly from their web portal. Once done, the order is sent to their Central of Fabrication, and production starts. A good solution if you are not looking to get your own 3D printer.

3d printing in progress

Buying a 3D printer to produce insoles

Indeed, before getting started with 3D printing, buying a printer is a must. When thinking of 3D printing, you probably automatically think of HP, which has developed good printers over the years. But they are not the only ones making 3D printers. Other companies such as Sole by PodoPrinter design small 3D printers capable of printing one pair of insoles at a time. Both options are really good, it actually depends on your needs for you to make the right choice.

Getting a good 3D scan

3D printing is without a doubt the future for insoles fabrication. This production option starts with a 3D scan, and you have different options to get a 3D scanning solution as there are several 3D scanners available on the market. You have the option to scan using a tablet or a handheld scanner. EinScan H by Shining 3D, Structure Sensor from Occipital, and Peel 3D from Creaform are some examples. When talking about 3D scanning, we cannot go on without talking about file reconstruction and measurements. These are quite important steps since this type of production starts with a 3D file, therefore, your 3D file needs to be very accurate before producing anything.  

Here, at TechMed 3D, we have spent the last years developing the best body scanning software so our clients can get the best 3D files possible, with or without measurement. Our solutions are compatible with various 3D scanners, and our newest addition uses the iPhone’s mobile TrueDepth camera.  

Are you ready to start with 3D scanning for insoles production?

We hope this article has helped you oversee the various options available for insoles production. Remember that to get started with this process, you will need a 3D scanning software, a CAD/CAM software, and a 3D printer. We cannot advise you on printers or CAD/CAM software, but we will be happy to help you get the best human body 3D scanning solution adapted to your needs. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. 

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