If you’re an athlete who spends much time on your feet, then you’ve probably been concerned at one time or another–or in an ongoing way–about the stress to your ankles posed by your active lifestyle. Most athletes have at the least sprained an ankle once or twice. It’s the twice or more sprains that can become problematic. Once again, however, 3D printing has come to the rescue of athletes and compromised ankles!
Thanks to a tech-savvy company in Delft, Netherlands, EXO-L, athletes and, of course, regular folks with ankle sprain concerns, can get an affordable, custom-made ankle support device called the EXO-L Ankle Ligament.
The ankle support devices are created using 3D scanning and printing technology. We first caught wind of EXO-L back in January, when the devices were available only in the Netherlands. Fortunately for potential customers who are not residents of the Netherlands, EXO-L wants your business, too.
Customers in the Netherlands can schedule appointments to have the scans made at EXO-L locations near them. According to the map on the company’s website, there are scanning locations all over the Netherlands where they use specialized scanners that link with customers’ accounts to get the information processed as quickly and efficiently as possible. The scans don’t cost a thing, which is pretty great. The scans capture the shape of the exterior of the ankle so that the support device will fit to the exact shape of an individual’s ankle.
Located elsewhere, though? Not a problem!
“If you are a customer from outside of the Netherlands,” says the company’s website, “please contact us for an individual arrangement.”
Now, that’s service!
The EXO-L device acts like an external ankle ligament. It doesn’t inhibit movement at all but protects your ankle from injuries like sprains.
“The mechanism employed by this external ankle ligament,” says the company, “offers full protection against spraining your ankles without decreasing your freedom of movement and comfort.”
You don’t actually put anything in your shoe, so you don’t have to adjust to the discomfort of an insert. Instead, the EXO-L Ankle Ligament is attached to the outside of your shoe by a special fastening element with a tension cord, which can be adjusted to connect to different kinds of low-cut shoes. The device itself rests against the back of your ankle, fitting snugly against the maleoli, the bones in the ankle.
The 3D printed EXO-L Ankle Ligament was designed in collaboration with experts in the field of sports medicine and training. It was developed by specialists at the Delft University of Technology and the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam.
Once your EXO-L has been 3D printed to meet your specific requirements, it is shipped directly to your home within two weeks of the 3D scan.
The price of the EXO-L is incredibly reasonable given the process in which it is made and the fact that it is customized to fit individual wearers. An EXO-L costs €199, or about $230 USD. Your shoes will need to be modified to add the special fastening element and there is an additional charge for that. The cost to modify shoes you already own so that they are compatible with the device is €23.95 (about $28) for the first shoe and €10 (around $12) for each additional shoe. If you buy an athletic shoe from EXO-L, they don’t charge for the modification.
Athletes, in particular, benefit from the EXO-L and, according to the company’s website, “athletes playing more than 25 different sports” are currently using the device. You can select the color you’d like to have your EXO-L printed in and can even have your name engraved to personalize it further.
For active folks and athletes, this is excellent news as you don’t have to change your lifestyle or scale back on training or playing, you just have to modify your shoes and keep doing what you love. And you can do it for around $200 or less.
Let us know if this device is one that would appeal to your feet in the 3D Printed Ankle Support forum thread over at 3DPB.com.