There are many ways in which you can 3D print insoles. At 3D Ortho Products we use the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology. The benefits of this technique is the ability to create variable flexibility in the shell, while also reducing weight and maintaining strength. These are also more economical due to the reduced waste in comparison to the other methods and that unused material can be recycled.
The captured foot shape can be from any method. It is then scanned onto software that allows the orthosis shell to be designed. This file is then sent to the printer, much like writing a word document and then pressing print. The orthosis is printed, cooled and dusted off before any covers are added.
What Materials are Used to Make Insoles?
Base materials commonly used to make foot insoles
- Nylon (3D printing only)
EVA or ethylene-vinyl acetate is a rubber based material that comes in various densities, typically low medium and high.
Plastic insole shells are commonly made from polypropylene based plastics e.g. copolymer which comes in various thicknesses.
Nylon is used in 3D printing due to its excellent properties of being tough but flexible. 3D printing allows the insole to be different thicknesses at different sections, something that can’t be done with other methods of manufacture.
Orthoses are often finished off with a covering. These can be variable in thickness depending on what they need to do. Usually the cover offers some cushioning/shock absorption and the thickness is will need to be accommodated in the shoe.
Should I have Full, Sulcus or Three Quarter Length Insoles?
This will depend on several factors, mainly what is suggested in the prescription from the clinician. Also trying to make sure the volume of the insole is suitable to fit into the footwear that it will be mainly used in.
How Long will Custom Insoles Last?
Softer base materials, such as EVA, will compress with wear. This is variable depending on the amount of use they have and the weight of the user.
Stiffer materials such as plastic and nylon will last a lot longer as the rate of material compression will be less than with softer materials.
Insole covers are typically softer than the base materials and can be replaced if they wear out. Also it’s always worth considering and discussing with the prescriber how long to continue using orthoses for, they don’t always need to be forever.
3D Ortho Products have 8sole approved clinics across the UK who will be able to help you on your journey.