"Cobbler, stick to your last!" For better or worse, shoemakers had to adhere to this saying for decades and even in times of 3D printing. For 3D printing has been a hot topic in orthopedics for quite some time, the quality of 3D printed shoe lasts has never been satisfactory enough to match that of conventional wooden shoe lasts, reports Protiq, an industrial additive manufacturing service provider. The company has tackled the problem and, together with expert orthopedic shoemakers, has developed a solution that saves time and still meets the high demands of professional shoemaking.
The key to this is the TPU plastic, which on the one hand offers the required properties of wood, and on the other hand is elastic, has a firm hold and is extremely light. As a result, the shoe lasts which had been produced by Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS) can be glued, polished and stapled in the same way as their wooden counterparts.
Their manufacture often took several weeks and at the same time required a long transport from East Asia, because the lasts could no longer be produced competitively in industrialized countries such as Germany. The long delivery times meant that customers and patients had to wait weeks for their orthopedic shoes.
But of course, the material alone does not produce a 3D printed shoe last. Before that, a customized 3D model has to be designed and adapted to the customer’s foot. For this, Protiq has created a free web-based solution that saves orthopedic shoemakers from having to purchase expensive 3D software.
The web application is built on the software system of Protiq’s long-standing cooperation partner trinckle. The Berlin-based software company is specialized in the automation of design processes. During the development phase, trinckle focused in particular on the requirements of the orthopedic technicians involved to provide a seamless and an intuitive workflow. Using the shoe last configurator, foot scans can be uploaded, the lasts can be modeled as required, and dimensions can be precisely measured and matched.
Additive manufacturing for polymers/SLS
A structured overview of the complex and multi-layered world of additive manufacturing, the process chain and areas of application is provided by our AM Field Guide.
Picture source: Protiq – A Phoenix Contact Company
- Additive manufacturing
- Consumer Health Care