Standing in one spot or actively walking for hours each day can eventually lead to some serious foot fatigue. Although off-the-shelf shoe inserts exist to provide support and/or cushioning, a bionics company has devised a method of creating affordable, 3D printed custom insoles from 2D snapshots taken on a smartphone.
Wiivv's 3D-printed Base insoles are designed from 2D snapshots taken from a smartphone.
3D printing is starting to gain some traction when it comes to footwear and orthotics. We've seen 3D-printed shoes from Adidas and New Balance just in the past few months, coming off the heels of Three Over Seven's sockless shoe and the custom 3D-printed insoles from Sols.
Wiivv's Base insole is the company's first application of its "adaptive manufacturing system," which includes an automated back end, a body-data mobile capture app, a product customization engine designed to create 3D-printable files in under 5 seconds, and the ability to print and manufacture everything on its own using enterprise-grade SLS printers from 3D Systems.
To kick off the creation of a custom pair of insoles, one would start by downloading and installing the Wiivv app to a compatible mobile device (iOS initially, with plans for Android in the near future). The app is designed to guide users through the process of selecting options and taking two photos for each foot. These images measure size and capture unique foot contours, which are used in the creation of a 3D-printable file.
Each Wiivv Base insole is printed from durable and flexible nylon, with silicon treads and pads applied for improved comfort. Unlike a typical insole, the Wiivv Base features a specially-designed heel cup. This "hole in the heel" is meant to let users keep the insoles of current footwear without uncomfortably raising their heel. In addition to having a shape custom to individual feet, users can choose from a variety of printed nylon colors, neoprene cushion patterns, and engraving options.
"We wanted to combine the best of both worlds – the affordability and accessibility of over the counter insoles, and the biomechanic benefit of a custom orthotic," says Wiivv co-founder Louis-Victor Jadavji.
The campaign for Wiivv's 3D-printed Base insoles is currently funding on Kickstarter, having raised 76 percent of its US$50,000 goal in two days, with another 29 days left to go. A pledge of $50 sets you up with one pair of Base insoles, saving $25 off the planned retail price.
The company says it has completed 12 months of R&D, with 72 design iterations and feedback/testing performed by 100 people who spend full days on their feet. If the manufacturing goes according to schedule, backers can expect shipments of the Wiivv Base to start as early as next month.
Wiivv's Base insoles are being showcased at the 3D Systems booth at CES 2016. Check out the video below to hear from the team and see some of the manufacturing process.