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How Go 4-D Empowers Foot Experts to Design Personalized Orthotics by Using Dynamic Gait Scanning and 3D Printing Technology

5 min read

Did you know some people claim that the orthotics industry will surpass the footwear industry? The custom orthotic insoles industry grew over the past few years due to the increasing prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. To help patients with these health issues and empower them to own their movement again, the orthotics industry keeps evolving continuously, following the rise in healthcare budgets and technological innovations.

One of the key innovations revolutionizing personalized orthotics is dynamic gait scanning and 3D printing technology. 3D printing is an excellent solution to create and replicate complex designs quickly and more accurately as well as manufacture them in lightweight materials. By combining accurate scanned images with dynamic gait analysis, foot experts can design personalized insoles in a few easy steps.

One of the frontrunners in providing 3D printing solutions for foot care specialists is Go 4-D, a company based in Ontario, Canada. Go 4-D provides technology and product solutions related to the advancement of the foot care practice. Their focus is on a data-driven and patient-centric approach where research meets design in 3D-printed custom-made orthotics.

Video showcasing 3D printing application in orthotics

“Our vision was to be the first company to offer affordable 3D-printed medical orthotics through an efficient, high-tech platform. The Go 4-D offer is a cloud-based, end-to-end ecosystem that integrates foot scanning, ordering, and 3D printing predicated on evidence-based patient care,” says Paul Linton, CEO of Go 4-D.  

On their mission to empower healthcare professionals to integrate 3D printing technology into their standard workflow, they rely on the most advanced solutions in the market. For over 20 years, they have used footscan software. Additionally, by adopting high-level scanners and pressure plates into their workflow, the Go 4-D team fully integrated Materialise Phits Suite as their essential diagnostic toolkit. 

Headshot of Paul Linton
Paul Linton, CEO at Go 4-D

To get to know more about Go 4-D and their view on 3D-printed orthotics, we reached out to Paul. After earning a Bachelor of Kinesiology, Paul started his career in the custom orthotic industry and successfully applied his knowledge of biomechanics and patient care.

3D scanning systems can obtain accurate digital scans of the foot shape and have been successfully used in medical and scientific applications. In your opinion, what is the main benefit of combining a dynamic pressure measurement with a static 3D scan? 

To get the optimal results, you need to combine a 3D volumetric scan and a dynamic pressure measurement scan by doing a functional scan (walking or running), you gain valuable, reliable, and reproducible data about the foot's plantar pressures. You also learn how the kinetic chain is reacting to the ground reaction forces. This quantifiable data can give healthcare professionals further insight into their patient's biomechanics, which enables them to treat patients better and prescribe the correct custom orthotics. 

In our latest footscan software release, we introduced the option to upload 3D scan files directly into the software. This means more podiatrists will be able to design 3D-printed orthotics by using different scanners. How will this transform their workflow? 

Traditional manufacturing and traditional scanning (3D only) have been used for decades, but they are limited in their capabilities. 3D printing and Phits Insoles allow us to use dynamic data as a crucial part of the design. Adding a dynamic pressure scan to the current 3D scanning process with the scanning device they already use in their practice use will enhance the ability of foot experts to design and order a better pair of orthotics directly. Nowadays, patients are expecting more than they were 20 years ago. Thanks to Materialise Phits Suite, our team helps foot experts streamline their workflow, deliver accurate diagnoses, and enhance the patient experience and care.

As one of the frontrunners in providing 3D printing solutions for foot care specialists, Go 4-D helps health care professionals to integrate 3D printing technology into the standard practice. To do so, they rely on the most advanced technology in the market. For over 20 years, they have used footscan software. Additionally, by adopting high-level scanners and pressure plates into their workflow, the Go 4-D team fully integrated Materialise Phits Suite as their essential diagnostic toolkit.

— Paul Linton, CEO at Go 4-D

The dynamic pressure measurement is a key framework when designing Phits. Do you think podiatrists should focus on obtaining objective dynamic data when designing orthotics? 

We live in an exciting time when we have access to a lot of valuable information. Data is the most valuable commodity on earth and collecting information about patients’ feet is no exception. 

Orthotic design and manufacturing must rely as much as they can on data because making an orthotic prescription is more of a science than it is an art. This data does not replace the healthcare professional's assessment but rather complements it. It gives the healthcare professional more specific information about the patient's foot mechanics that they can use to assess their patient's condition better and prescribe the most suitable device for that patient. As more data becomes available, the software recommendations become better in providing the correct suggestions. This way, the system can entirely guide you while designing orthotics. So, the answer is a definite YES! 

The orthotics design is based on 3D printing technology. What are the main benefits of 3D printing? 

The main benefit is the ability to design fully personalized orthotics for each patient individually — from measuring to manufacturing.  

You do not have to work with an existing piece of material, mold it, or shape it. There are also fewer manual subjective errors that usually occur in a standard laboratory. 3D printing is a reliable and precise method that enables the easy reproduction of models based on patient data, meaning you can create new devices fast and hassle-free! 

Another major benefit is that the intrinsic properties of the material can change. Independent stiffness regions that don't alter the device's thickness and torsional stiffness are designed into the shell itself. 

Will 3D printing technology implementation increase an orthotic volume of a clinic or a practice? 

Because scanning, designing, and ordering 3D-printed orthotics is faster than manual workflow, on average, a Go 4-D customer increases their orthotic business by about 35%.  

The Materialise Phits Suite, combined with our team's expertise, creates a perfect environment to build the practice of the future, regardless of the professionals' profile. Give us a call, or better yet, schedule a demo with one of our staff to learn how you can leverage 3D printing technology to build a better and more efficient foot expert workflow. 

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