Many of us are just waiting, ready to take off from the starting line as soon as 3D printing technology finds its stride in the footwear and corresponding insole industry. For everyone with a challenge in finding footwear due to thin, thick, flat feet, those with high arches, and odd sizes–it would seem logical that with all the customization benefits afforded by 3D printing we should soon see this becoming a main trend.
That’s certainly going to be the case if the powers that be at SUNfeet have anything to do with it. Well aware of the challenges most people encounter trying to buy shoes straight off the rack at the mall or boutique shop, they’ve used the power of 3D printing to make a specialized insole that allows you to add greater comfort and fit, and ‘keep your lifestyle.’ We’re all for that, and especially if it means ease, affordability, and efficiency in the ordering process. If you’ve got a smartphone and can operate a standard app, you are going to find ordering SUNfeet insoles to be a snap. They are in fact so innovative and unique that they are even the subject of a museum exhibition in Valencia, Spain.
Their team has created a ‘fusion of new tendencies in health, technology, and fashion.’ Offering an app and a system developed by the Instituto de Biomecánica that allows you to measure your own feet, the result is a semi-flexible support that rewards your feet with sweet comfort.
Only available in Europe so far, the magic in SUNfeet insoles comes directly from the level of customization which not only allows for a cushier ride for the feet but reduces pain and fatigue. This is a real win for those of us who are on our feet all day, as well as for the runners and power walkers. Developed for both fashion and function, SUNfeet are meant to meld together all the needs typical consumers have.
With the app, designed for the 3Dcapture system and available free through the App Store and Google Play, the foot is captured in a user-friendly manner that’s also highly accurate–and obviously this is important with a product you are placing inside your shoe. Without perfect sizing, you certainly aren’t going to have perfect comfort. And SUNfeet is about happy feet.
The process for the user involves simply placing the bare foot on a sheet of paper, allowing for guidance from the app which is set up to gain three images of the foot, which are then sent to a server which uses pattern recognition and programmed algorithms for shape analysis. Within one minute or less, the image is formed on the screen and assigned a unique identification code which is used for making the insole. The digital file is created, and the insole is ready for 3D printing.
Sports, casual, and elegant models are available, allowing for versatility in style and functionality, along with material and thickness. With the options that are available for customization, impact cushioning, energy return, and the most suitable pressure distribution requirements are met for everyone.The sports model, which allows for even better performance during play, can help reduce the chance of injury too. This particular model is also designed to:
- Boost forward momentum and absorb impacts at the heel
- Serve as a support for the arch of the foot and reduce fatigue
- Offer a semi-rigid heel cup for stability and good movement control
- Reduce pressure and stress on the sole of the foot
The casual style offers a more relaxed insole, featuring:
- Extra cushioning at the front of the foot reducing pressure and relieving discomfort
- A reinforced heel with an insert made of an elastic material which returns the energy expended when walking, providing an extra boost to reduce fatigue
- A style good for everyday wear, offering greater comfort over a longer period
The elegant insoles mean that you can walk comfortably even in dress shoes, offering:
- Minimum thickness to adapt to all shoes
- Extra cushioning in forefoot and customized arch support for improved pressure distribution and reduced soreness
- High impact absorption for the harder heel usually found in dress shoes
For all three models, color and style can be customized, and more than 2,000 configurations can be designed–even with personalized messages!
Also, those visiting The Science Museum “Príncipe Felipe” of Valencia can check out the SUNfeet technology module as part of the exhibition, ‘We Take Care About Your Quality of Life.’ Introduced by The Instituto de Biomecánica (Biomechanics Institute – IBV), those viewing the exhibit have a chance to see how the SUNfeet system works. IBV Clothing Director Juan Carlos Gonzalez highlights system performance and user-friendliness, along with showing how accurate the app is in scanning the foot and customizing it perfectly to the user’s size and needs.
“This exhibition, promoted by CVIDA association, was developed by IBV in collaboration with the Science Museum and opened in October 2007 in order to make available to the citizens technologies, products and services that take care of their health and well-being,” says IBV director, Javier Sánchez Lacuesta, reminding exhibit goers that “this is an interactive show in which the visitor can check their skills in different environments and attractions.”
We want to feel good and look good, and the teams at The Instituto de Biomecánica and SUNfeet are aware of that, as well as how much pressure just daily activity can put on the feet. When coupled with footwear styles that are not always conducive to good care of the foot, comfort can become a true issue, with users experiencing fatigue and even pain. Obviously, every foot is different, so using a general flat insole for all types is not the best scenario–although it is the traditional one. Thanks to these Spanish innovators and the power of 3D scanning and printing, the days of blisters and tired feet may soon be a thing of the past.
Would you consider having your insoles 3D printed? Let us know your thoughts in the SUNfeet forum thread on 3DPB.com.