The Foot Measurement System That Allows for Mass Customized Insoles
Aetrex’s Albert scanner is an example of how advances in measurement technology aid 3D printing in realizing its promise.
The Albert scanner for customized insoles includes pressure sensors and 18 digital cameras.
Many of the pieces we’ve posted recently explore the connection between additive manufacturing (AM) and measurement
Senior editor Stephanie Hendrixson having her feet measured by the Albert scanner.
Aetrex introduced the Albert scanner in 2017, and then and now the company believes it to be the most advanced 3D foot scanning system in the world. A combination of 5,000 gold-plated sensors, over 900 infrared LEDs and receptors, and 18 digital cameras all provide rapid measurement of the foot, along with rapid mapping of a detailed pressure profile that reveals how the foot contacts the ground, and how the force of standing is distributed.
Among the results of the scan is a pressure map detailing how the foot contacts the ground. (This is from the scan of the author’s feet.)
Pressure reduction has been a long-standing aim of the company’s footwear orthotics. Initially, Albert scanners were placed in stores to help recommend the best footwear, but it soon became clear that additive manufacturing provided the next step (so to speak). An orthotic customized via 3D printing can precisely match every wearer’s pressure map, essentially bringing the ground up to the foot by tailoring the springiness at every minute area of the insole to the force the foot is experiencing there.
The TPU insoles 3D printed by EOS use digital foam to achieve responsiveness tailored to the wearer’s pressure map.
Aetrex partnered with EOS to develop the system seamlessly translating Albert data into the build file for a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) insole tailored to the foot. EOS varies the springiness map throughout the insole using “digital foam” — that is, a foam-like responsiveness created through different 3D printed spring-like geometries delivering different levels of resistance. See more in The Cool Parts Show episode linked above.
The economics of 3D printing allow for cost-effective production of niche products, and Amazon Prime offers a way to distribute them. The Periscope Case is one company’s first venture into an all-new model aimed at bringing products to market that would never have been profitable before.
Glasses work, but both the product and purchase experience could be made better. Fitz Frames aims to help, with custom glasses featuring 3D printed frames manufactured in Youngstown, Ohio.
Under Armour, Adidas, Nike and New Balance are applying different additive manufacturing technologies and materials for customized kicks.