3D Printed Custom Insoles
We are pleased to offer a wide range of 3d printed insoles (foot orthoses). We have been using 3d scanning technology to make insoles for a number of years now. In the past couple of years we have been taking advantage of the ability to prescribe 3d printed devices. The aim of today’s blog is to discuss the advantages this technology provides and the evolution of custom made insoles.
3d printing, also known as additive manufacturing has replaced 3d milling, or subtractive manufacturing as our devices of choice. Over the years orthotists and podiatrists have used a variety of materials to create custom insoles such as, metal, leather, foams, gels, plastics and carbon fibre. Each of these materials have their advantages and disadvantages providing a wide range of properties including stiffness, density, thermal conductivity, electrical conductivity, thermal expansion, corrosion resistance, thickness, deformation, colours and cosmetic finishes. This allows us to prescribe materials based to your clinical and personal requirements.
From a clinical perspective orthoses are primarily load management devices. When prescribing an orthosis the aim is to augment the load acting upon the body. Fundamentally when a orthosis is prescribed the clinician has to consider the following variables:
The geometry of the device
The shape of the device will have a great effect on the comfort of the devices. Furthermore, any posting or wedging built into the device will change its overall geometry. Basically, how much does the shape “push” you to control forces acting on your body.
The varying properties of the materials used will have a significant impact on the functional capabilities of the device.
These variables will impact the comfort, cosmetic appearance, shock attenuation, frictional properties, thickness, mechanical properties, durability, hygiene and overall success of your orthoses.
As a result 3d printing now allows us to prescribe devices to be manufactured with specific stiffness, finishes, thickness, orientations and durability etc, as we have complete control over the geometry of the device. Rather than having one solid piece of carbon fibre/plastic/foam with a uniform thickness and stiffness we are now able to create devices that are stiff or flexible in specific areas. We can even create progressive flex within devices to manipulate the ground reaction forces, reducing the need for bulky wedges and allowing the transition from stiff to flexible to feel more subtle. In the past we would attempt thin materials using machines and hand skills in order to attempt to facilitate this effect.
The ability to create devices in this manner allows us to prescribe devices that were previously not possible. 3d printing provides the opportunity to manufacture effective load management devices with a wider variety of mechanical properties, providing durable, cosmetic and comfortable treatments for our clients.
If you are interested in a consultation to discuss custom made insoles please get in touch.