Hospitals and orthopedists face many challenges associated with traditional manufacturing processes. The manufacture of custom medical orthotic insoles requires considerable skill and labor to produce high-quality and accurate devices that provide the support prescribed by the orthopedist.
The extremely labor-intensive manufacturing methods used to traditionally manufacture these devices result in high costs to be passed on to the patients and long manufacturing times that delay practitioners in developing a treatment plan.
3D printing is not a new technology, and significant improvements in 3D printing machines, 3D printing software, and flexible and durable resins allow high-precision custom orthotics insoles to be produced on demand.
Better compliance, shorter turnaround times, higher productivity, and lower costs provide a more positive experience for patients. Orthopedists can implement streamlined workflows for on-demand custom orthotic insoles with the right 3D printing solution.
Insole production before 3D printing
Each couple of orthotic insoles is individual for each patient because each client has different needs. Therefore, the mechanical properties of the various parts of the insoles must be adjusted according to the condition of the client.
This has proven to be a problem for the traditional method of making orthotics insoles. The traditional method of making custom insoles requires using a CNC machine to mill a piece of materials to obtain the desired shape of the insoles. To ensure the accuracy of the anatomical area of the insoles, a high-precision CNC machine and a large amount of labor are required.
Achieving this is a time-consuming and complex process. The traditional method creates debris and dust during the production process, polluting the work environment and endangering the health of workers.
Why choose 3D print orthotic insoles?
More and more foot specialists around the world are turning to 3D printing to the creating orthotic insoles for their patients – and for good reason. We are here to explain how this technology helps everyone, from experts themselves to people who wear products created by this method.
3D printing has come a long way since it was first commercialized over thirty years ago. It has become popular in many industrial circles, including industries such as medicine, aerospace, and automotive. Manufacturers operating under the strictest quality controls and hobbyists have come to trust and rely on it for its inherent advantages.
There are many reasons to love it – 3D printing can be cost-effective, help save time, be used to create complex structures, speed time to market, and work for everything from single prototypes to mass production.
When it comes to applications like orthotic insoles, some advantages stand out more than others. So why should you choose this technology?
Make it personal
Each client is unique. They are built differently, they move their own way, and they need orthotics that reflect that. This may be a problem for traditional manufacturing techniques, but not for 3D printing.
Since the design and printing method is completely digital, foot and ankle specialists can create a unique design and then simultaneously print multiple pairs of orthotics insoles that differ from each other, making them a suitable alternative for mass production.
For patients, this extra level of customization ensures a perfect fit and happier feet with every step. This is because every 3D print orthosis starts with a CAD file, with a design based on patient data – dynamic measurements to be precise.
Instead of developing corrections based on a single scan of the patient’s foot, this method relies on multiple measurements, as well as gait and pressure measurements to create an average.
In doing so, foot and ankle specialists can create corrective insoles that are unique to each patient, based on their movements and the shape of the foot, with greater precision than ever before – there will no longer be a “one-size-fits-all” that truly fits everyone. While ensuring they stay comfortable, lightweight, and durable.
Accuracy and repeatability
In terms of orthotics, this is a big improvement for foot and ankle specialists. This allows them to make adjustments to the printed base of the insoles themselves and apply different levels of stiffness as needed. Unlike some traditional orthotics insoles, this means that the correctors are not glued on top of the insole itself, so the fit is much less bulky and easier to reproduce.
Naturally, this improved design would be pointless if the final product didn’t live up to it – but that’s not the issue here. The 3D printing technique used to create orthotics insoles has an accuracy of up to 0.1 mm.
It would be impossible to reproduce a pair that would be identical to the original using a manual technique, and any minor differences could have a big impact on performance or patient comfort. Thanks to 3D printing, they can be sure that the result will always be the same.
Benefits of 3D-print in customized medical orthotic products
Hospitals and orthopedists can see a number of benefits by adopting print as their main manufacturing process:
3D printers can directly print multiple customized orthotics in one batch. Through a single process, hospitals and smart factories quickly produce a range of customized medical orthotics insoles, such as rigid, semi-rigid, and soft customized medical orthotics insoles for adults and children.
3D-print custom medical orthotic insoles have comparable or even more accurate accuracy than traditional orthotic devices. Advanced 3D printing software, hardware, and materials eliminate many of the manual steps during production required to achieve the required accuracy.
Today’s high-end 3D printers use digital optical processes to produce medical devices to achieve high printing speeds. Combined with a large build area and flexibility, modern 3D printers enable high-throughput mass production of multiple orthotic devices made from flexible and durable resins.
3D printers eliminate manual orthotic manufacturing processes such as thermoforming, grinding, polishing, and gluing. Products are easily printed directly with minimal post-processing.
For example, the process of scanning a patient’s foot to printing a custom medical orthotic device can be completed in less than a day, and the production time can be the same day.
For example, with advanced 3D printing processes and materials, hospitals and smart factories can directly produce medical orthotic insoles on demand and deliver them to patients with waiting times. Due to the higher precision, 3D-print medical devices fit better and are more comfortable than devices made in the traditional way.
Can you 3D printed orthotics?
There are many 3D printers that you can use to the making orthotics insoles in your own office. Almost all 3D printing technologies are applicable to orthotics insoles.
How much are 3D printed orthotics?
3D-print orthoses cost between $300 and $400 per pair, compared to $60 to $80 for traditional orthoses.
How much do 3D printed shoes cost?
This can cost from 3 to thousands of dollars. It’s hard to get an accurate 3D printing cost without a 3D model. The price of 3D printing is influenced by factors such as materials, model complexity, and labor costs.
Can you make your own orthotics?
It is generally not recommended to make your own orthotics insoles, as this could potentially worsen the condition you are trying to alleviate.
Are 3D orthotics insoles good?
With high-quality materials and thoughtful design, 3D-print orthotic insoles like phits are lightweight and durable, meaning they will withstand years of heavy use and weigh about half as much as traditionally milled insoles.
Do orthopedic insoles weaken the muscles of the foot?
This is a question that many foot health professionals hear quite often. Short answer: no. There are no studies indicating that the use of orthopedic insoles can cause long-term or short-term weakness in the feet or legs. In fact, just the opposite is true.
3D printing provides better custom orthotics, precision, aesthetic appearance, and lightweight structure. It also significantly reduces the manufacturing process, and timelines and simplifies the maintenance of patient data.