Over the last few years, several companies have arisen to offer custom-fit insoles and orthotics developed through 3D scanning and 3D printing, but one of the earliest was SOLS, which we first heard of back in 2014 when they were still in the seed funding phase. The company’s patented platform covers the whole process of creating custom footwear, beginning with an imaging system, the first to be made available via smartphone, that uses images of customers’ feet to generate 3D models perfectly customized to weight, anatomy and even fitness level. The 3D models are then used to 3D print custom orthotics on demand.
SOLS has also presented other unique ideas such as robotic 3D printed shoes, and appeared poised to become one of the most exciting and creative startups in the 3D and wearables industries. Sadly, even the most promising companies aren’t immune to financial issues, and last January SOLS had to lay off 20% of their employees. We haven’t heard much about them since then – until now, as SOLS announces that they have been acquired by Aetrex Worldwide, another producer of custom orthotics and shoes.
Aetrex recently launched the Albert scanner, a fancy foot scanner featuring 5,000 gold plated sensors and more than 1,000 LEDs, receptors and digital cameras. According to Aetrex, it’s the smartest foot scanner on the market and gathers more data and information than any other device to date.
The Albert scanner was designed in particular to be used in the development of Aetrex’s custom Lynco orthotics, but they’re also being marketed to shoe stores. With the acquisition in place, SOLS will immediately begin integrating their own products into the Aetrex line, and will work with Aetrex’s hardware and software engineering teams to further develop the Albert scanner.
“The acquisition of SOLS is consistent with the Aetrex mandate of always providing the most authentic consumer benefits through state of the art technology,” said Aetrex CEO Larry Schwartz. “The integration of SOLS technology into our footwear and orthotics businesses will allow Aetrex to offer unmatched customization and adjustability across our product lines.”
SOLS, based in New York City, and Aetrex, in Teaneck, New Jersey, are virtually neighbors, making a seamless integration easier. After last year’s financial concerns, the acquisition may serve as something of a renewal for SOLS.
“After meeting the Aetrex team over a year ago, we quickly realized how their global footprint and decades of industry experience in orthotics and footwear could advance SOLS’ product growth and accelerate our mission of revolutionizing footwear in the coming years,” said SOLS Founder and CEO Kegan Schouwenburg.
Pun intended, I wonder? Regardless, both companies, as two of the brightest and most inventive in the footwear industry, should benefit from each other’s ideas and experience by partnering up. Aetrex has been around since 1946, starting as a developer of arch supports and medical foot care products and adapting along with the times to continually introduce new technology. Their experienced status combined with SOLS’ startup energy may result in an even more dynamic, exciting and successful business. Discuss in the Aertrex SOLS forum at 3DPB.com.