Materialise Hits the Slopes with Tailored Fits AG to Launch Digital Supply Chain for Custom, 3D Printed Ski Boots


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Every day it seems like we’re hearing about another 3D printed innovation in the world of footwear, from big name brands like Adidas and Nike to the 3D printed shoes that Feetz manufactures and the custom insoles by Wiivv, which were tested in real-world conditions by’s editor-in-chief Sarah Goehrke as she walked around the Materialise World Summit and Materialise HQ in Belgium this spring. Speaking of Materialise, the 3D printing solutions and software provider has announced a new partnership with winter sports gear and tailored footwear specialist Tailored Fits AG, which is based out of Switzerland. The footwear startup and Materialise will work together to launch the first end-to-end digital supply chain for custom-fit, 3D printed ski boots.

Reto Rindlisbacher, the CEO of Tailored Fits, said, “The way an individual’s foot sits in a ski-boot – the forces it exerts and the support it receives – makes a huge difference to comfort and performance, yet the issue is one our industry has failed to address.”

“We saw that 3D printing had massive potential in this respect, but this isn’t our area of expertise. Ski boots and sports gear, is. We know the market, we know skiers, we know the biomechanics involved in sports motion; we have access to one of the world’s best sports gear development labs in Italy. From our partnership with Materialise, we received access to the additive manufacturing expertise to develop the best 3D printed solution, and the answer to making mass customized production a reality.”

[Image: Tailored Fits]

While it won’t be the first 3D printed ski boot, the two companies are really focused on their innovative supply chain process. Materialise and Tailored Fits, which was founded in 2016, spent a year co-creating a solution that’s already letting customers have their feet scanned by the sporting goods retailer partners of Tailored Fits in just ten minutes. Then, making good use of the newly developed process, the customers receive 3D printed insoles, made with FDM 3D printing technology, for different sports, tailored specifically for their feet, in less than ten days.

Final prototype render of ski boots

Tailored Fits offers an industrial solution for mass manufacturing customized fits for sports and protection gear and footwear, using digital 3D scanning and product design, 3D printing and sales processes. The solution culminates in anatomically accurate fits, which support the customer’s natural biomechanics and prevent pressure points and pain while playing their preferred sport – in addition to skiing, the company also offers custom 3D printed insoles for biking, running, and hiking.

While Materialise and Tailored Fits were developing the process together, they researched specific areas and parts that would benefit from 3D printing technology, as well as how to automate the design to delivery process.

“We quickly saw that customized insoles would be critical,” explained Dr. Alireza Parandian, the Corporate Innovations and Global Strategist for Wearables at Materialise. “Focusing on this area first, we began looking at materials and developing structures that would provide rigid support for key zones of the foot and flexible protection in others in order to maximize both comfort and performance.”

“But identifying the right material and the right interior structures was just part of the puzzle. The process of analysing anatomically detailed 3D scans, converting that individual body data into print-ready instruction and automating the ordering, production and delivery process – in other words creating a unique digital supply chain – meant working incredibly closely with the Tailored Fits team to develop the ‘tailored fit’ for them. Working with these guys has been a real honour and a co-creation project in the truest sense of the term.”

The pilot phase has been incredibly successful, and several pro athletes have already endorsed the startup’s new digital supply process with Materialise and the 3D printed insoles. The two are currently testing out the liner/full ski boot option with professional skiers, including members of a national team. Provided this goes as planned, skiers will soon be able to get fully customized, 3D printed ski boot liners and ski boots, made to ensure maximum performance and comfort.

Materialise will manage the automation process for the 3D printed ski boots and liners, as well as “provide 100% of the production capacity required to support the supply chain.”

“I think the reason this project has been so successful is that each company has brought out the best in the other,” said Rindlisbacher. “Working with experts who could devise the ideal 3D-printed solution, software set-up and then offer us a production line to support demand has meant we’ve been able to remain focused on what we do best – looking at what sports enthusiasts need from their gear and finding innovative ways to meet those needs.”

Get ready to hit the slopes – the 3D printed ski boots by Tailored Fits, made possible by its newly developed digital supply chain with Materialise, should be available this December from leading sporting goods retailers. Discuss in the 3D Printed Ski Boots forum at

[Source/Images: Materialise]


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