Additive Manufacturing Strategies

SOLS, 3D Printed Orthotics Company, Lays Off 20% of Workforce

ST Medical Devices

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SOLS.logo_-300x130While most business owners will heartily agree that their companies are only as good as their employees, sometimes they are forced to make changes due to a wide range of financial reasons, some industry-driven, and some specific to the business. Some companies are forced to consider layoffs in order to move forward, but that’s obviously never an easy decision. Growing pains can be difficult from every angle–and in the 3D printing industry, which hit the mainstream with a bang and has kept on rolling along at an accelerated level, some low points were bound to come along with the euphoria.

Now, SOLS, one of the first to make 3D printed wearables, is handing out pink slips. Sigh. A lot of them. With 20 percent of their team being laid off, that makes fourteen people who will be looking for jobs here in the fresh new year.

sols-3This significant layoff comes just before what is expected to be a new product announcement, most likely to be released in several weeks. Co-founder and CEO Kegan Schouwenburg, an early employee at 3D printery Shapeways before founding SOLS, did divulge that, on a positive note, the team members who were let go were provided with severance packages, and the company is working to help each individual find new opportunities.

“As we broaden our product offerings, we are exploring distribution channels to extend our core medical business and support our overall strategy. There will be an exciting product announcement in the next several weeks,” she said. “We are sad to see our colleagues go, but believe these changes will enable focus, and set us up for greater success.”

The layoff may come as a surprise to some outside the company, which has been on quite a roll since their beginning several years ago, with a strong focus on 3D printed orthotics–and a bend toward inimitable creativity with various products like futuristic 3D printed high-tops that are part robot and part shoe, combining gyroscopes and pressure sensors with the customization aspects of a 3D printed shell–as well as fresh new projects like a pop-up shop in Manhattan’s East Village last year which allowed customers to come in and have fittings performed via their mobile app, and then delivered within two weeks.

fabrication_01The future has looked bright for this company in terms of allowing for orthotics to become so much more accessible and customized, affordably, with patients being able to visit SOLS providers across the US to have prescriptions made. We’ve been following SOLS with great interest since they launched, proceeding to create partnerships and going on to raise significant seed funding.

Just last fall they also began offering a formal app for users to scan their feet and then enter information such as height, weight, lifestyle. Their ‘secret trick’ though is in using stereo photogrammetry, during an actual fitting process. By extracting data regarding the foot, they are able to make a map of the foot with complete precision.  Discuss this news in the SOLS forum thread on 3DPB.com.

SOLS has raised $19.25 million to date in outside funding, from investors including Felicis Ventures, Founders Found, FundersGuild, Lux Capital, Rothenberg Ventures, RRE Ventures, Melo7 Tech Partners, Tenaya Capital, and others.

[Source: TechCrunch]

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