TDL Systems, a Canadian company specializing in 3D scanning, 3D data processing and 3D printing, has become the latest company to launch 3D printed custom sandals. Now available as part of a Kickstarter campaign, the 3D printed custom sandals are created by using a full-length 3D printed custom midsole, a conventional outsole and sandal uppers.
Each sandal is tailored to each person’s unique foot to match the plantar contour shape as well as the foot length and width. Feet are different from person to person as well as with the same person from left to right foot. Few people have identical feet. In other words, your left foot might be slightly higher or lower arched, wider or more narrow, and/or longer or shorter than your right foot.
For consumers, 3D printed custom sandals will be a bespoke product which fit perfectly to your feet to provide ultimate comfort and the right amount of arch support to improve balance and to distribute the body weight more evenly because they are printed from impressions or scans of your own feet. For those who are using foot orthotics to manage their foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, metatarsalgia and leg length discrepancy, a prescription from a medical practitioner (podiatrists, chiropractors and pedorthist…) can be incorporated into the 3D printed midsole to create 3D printed orthotic sandals.
The custom manufacturing process for the sandals begins with a full-length 3D printed midsole into life: (1) foot scan directly on a foot or a foot casting; (2) automatically create a digital model of a custom midsole based on the foot scan data with/without a prescription; (3) virtual fit the midsole digital model with the foot scan data on a computer screen to see if any modification is needed; (4) 3D print the midsole by using a flexible material on a desktop 3D printer; (5) assembly the outsole, the newly printed midsole and sandal uppers together to complete the entire manufacturing process. In addition, the foot scan data is saved into a database for future orders.
3D printed custom sandals are more than a pair of sandals. It takes personalization to a totally new dimension and can offer insights into the level of mass customization of footwear manufacturing that can be achieved through 3D printing. Customers walk walk into a shoe store, get both feet scanned in minutes, watch how the shoes are shaped to fit their foot’s 3D contour on a computer screen, make modifications, place an order and few hours later get 3D printed custom shoes.
Through its OLT Footcare brand, the company offers custom orthotics and insoles. It has also introduced a 3D foot scanner + 3D printer package for manufacturing custom foot orthotics by 3D printing. With a OLT system, a medical practitioner can scan a patient’s feet, fill out a prescription form on a computer screen, verify digital orthotic models with the foot data on a computer, and 3D print the custom foot orthotics. 3D printing can be done in his/her clinic or a central 3D printing lab.
The orthotics shell length/width, arch shape, shell rigidity, heel cup depth and rear foot posting options are available on the prescription form. This entirely new process of prescribing/manufacturing of custom foot orthotics has transformed the 50+ years conventional manufacturing process into a digital one. Now, a medical practitioner is in fully control of the entire process of creating 3D printed custom foot orthotics. In addition, every manufacturing step is digitally controlled. It will be much easy to accurately make multiple pairs of custom foot orthotics with different prescription for incremental adjustment of a patient’s condition.