Getting a Leg Up: 3D Printed Ice Tracks for Shoes Help Avoid Falls on Scandinavian Ice
Design engineer Frank Schoenmaker and usability expert Frens Pries are Frank & Frens, a team of creators who design products “made to fit individual needs and unique body geometry.”
They bring their innovative design methods and state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques like 3D printing and 3D scanning to bear on projects tailor made to feature both unique performance and perfect fit.
“I’m fascinated with products and why they are the way they are. When I look at 3D printing, I see possibilities to rethink products and how they are made,” Schoenmaker says. “3D printing allows new functionalities and shapes to be created, and it makes it possible to manufacture tailor made products on a scale never seen before.”
The pair are responsible for a range of products such as the EXO-L, a biomechanical aid to prevent spraining an ankle based on the layout of the human body’s ligaments. It uses this principle to restrict the movement of the ankle at the points where a sprain might occur, but retains complete freedom of movement within normal parameters.
The device uses a 3D scan to collect data used to create each EXO-L with setup customized for each user.
“The Exo-L is a great example of a tailor-made product based on the proper usage of 3D scanning and 3D printing,” they say in their portfolio. “The combination of these two techniques creates an affordable, tailor made prosthetic of the kind we are going to see a lot more in the future.”
The team’s latest innovation takes on the problem of injuries which occur in slip and fall accidents. In Scandinavia where the designers live, ice and snow during the tough winter season causes some 300,000 incidents of hospitalization every year. Though people try to head off the problem by wearing “ice-tracks” attached over their shoes, that proves to be an inconvenient practice as the tracks aren’t allowed inside shops where they might damage flooring.
As a result, shoemaker Klaveness approached Frank & Frens to investigate and develop a reversible Ice Track, a sort of flip-up sole for a shoe which could hinge under the sole and lock at the rear. The idea was to build a solution which is both easy to change and requires no tools.
The idea worked so well that the product has been patented by Klaveness, and the plan is that the device will be integrated into that company’s line of winter footwear for this season.
“The use of 3D-printed parts (in this case rubber-like filament) gave us the potential to quickly iterate between different designs and evaluate shapes,” Frank & Frens explain. “In the end we could even cast prototype with integrated metal spikes using a 3D-printed mould.”
What do you think about these 3D printed biomechanical devices from Scandinavian design team Frank & Frens? Would you use the Ice Track from Klaveness or the EXO-L? Let us know in the 3D Printed Ice Track Grips forum thread on 3DPB.com.
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