Nils Faber May 15, 2014

What’s the next “step” in 3D Printing? You don’t have to be a 3D Printing fanatic to see that tailored 3D printed products have become more common as the cost has diminished and the software has advanced. This environment has enabled our latest endeavor, RSPrint, which we founded together with RSscan (RS stands for Runner Service). Together, some of us at Materialise have worked with Jempi Wilssens, founder of RSscan, and his colleagues to develop 3D printed insoles, based on dynamic measurement footscans and customized to support your distinct gait.

RSscan’s founder, Jempi Wilssens, with British Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe. He has worked with other athletes, such as Kim Clijsters, Johan Museeuw and Tia Hellebaut.
RSscan’s founder, Jempi Wilssens, with British Olympic runner Paula Radcliffe. He has worked with other athletes, such as Kim Clijsters, Johan Museeuw and Tia Hellebaut.

As a product designer, this has been a great project to work on so far. Working on a product that the consumer directly interacts with on a daily basis is a designer’s dream. These 3D printed insoles are something that will make an important difference in the wearer’s everyday life, and was developed to feel so natural that they may not even notice it’s there. The long term-influence this has on a person will improve their wellbeing with every step they take, making it a truly rewarding project to work on.

A photo of me!
A photo of me!

How does it work?

First a trained specialist will take a dynamic scan of your gait using RSscans’s Footscan© system.
First a trained specialist will take a dynamic scan of your gait using RSscans’s Footscan© system.
The specialist can then analyze your footprint to see where exactly and in which direction you need some extra support. This is just a screenshot, but in our software we can see all the dynamic pressure distribution and foot movement.
The specialist can then analyze your footprint to see where exactly and in which direction you need some extra support. This is just a screenshot, but in our software we can see all the dynamic pressure distribution and foot movement.
Based on the specialist’s analysis, a design is generated, which is sent to Materialise.
Based on the specialist’s analysis, a design is generated, which is sent to Materialise.
Materialise then “engineers” this design into a manufacturable part, which is then 3D printed. Finally a cushioning layer is mounted on top to finish the insole. The finished product is then packed and shipped to you!
Materialise then “engineers” this design into a manufacturable part, which is then 3D printed. Finally a cushioning layer is mounted on top to finish the insole. The finished product is then packed and shipped to you!

Why 3D Printing?

So what is the value of 3D Printing for this insole? Sure, there are insoles that are customized based on the shape of your foot, but what makes the RSPrint insole unique is that it uses information based on your distinct gait. We then 3D print part of the support so that it is truly customized according to your movement and where you apply pressure when you walk, supporting you in your every step. At Materialise we use a barometer to assess whether production through Additive Manufacturing could be beneficial. A couple of years back, the insole’s size and shape complexity would have been hard to manufacture on a large scale, but now the time is perfect for these insoles. Don’t forget to check out RSPrint’s website!

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