Jan 8, 2016 | By Kira

We’ve been following New York-based SOLS since early 2014, when the company first announced their goal to bring customized, 3D printed orthotics to the masses, and took a significant step towards doing so thanks to a $1.75 million investment led by Lux Capital. Since then, the ambitious startup has managed to raise nearly $19.5 million in additional funding rounds, all while developing their platform for 3D printed corrective orthotics; ADAPTIV 3D printed shoes; and consumer-based Flex 3D printed insoles that can be ordered directly through a smartphone.

After all of this fast-paced and forward-moving progress, the company has today announced news of a more solemn nature. SOLS has laid off 20 percent of its staff, equaling 14 employees across all teams. According to charismatic founder and CEO, Kegan Schouwenburg, however, these staff reductions come just ahead of a major new product launch as well as further efforts aimed at broadening SOLS’ product offerings.

“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.”

SOLS did confirm that the employees who were let go were provided with severance packages, and that the company is continuing to work with them to help secure new employment opportunities.

SOLS markets itself as a premium lifestyle brand, and was one of the very first companies to utilize 3D printing to market custom-manufactured wearables to mainstream consumers. The company began with SOLS Rx, a line of corrective 3D printed insoles sold by registered podiatrists across the country. Through SOLS’ partnership with WebPT, their 3D printed foot orthotics, designed to reduce foot pain and injuries, were also made available to 43,000 rehab therapy professionals.

In late 2015 however, the company truly found their footing and announced their arrival to the consumer market with SOLS Flex, the first 3D printed custom insoles available directly to consumers that could be completely customized, optimized, and then ordered directly through a smartphone app. While costing significantly less than traditional orthotics, SOLS 3D printed insoles promise to absorb shock, alleviate heel pressure and respond to each wearers' individual gait.

The market for consumer 3D printed wearables, and in particular 3D printed shoes, insoles and footwear, has been heating up considerably in the past few months. Industry giants Adidas, Nike and New Balance have all stepped up to the plate with their own plans or even patents for 3D printed shoes.

SOLS founder and CEO, Kegan Schouwenburg

Meanwhile, within the 3D printed consumer insole market, even more direct competition has sprung up in the form of companies like SUNfeet and Wiivv Wearables, who just recently launched a kickstarter campaign for a similar, smartphone-based, 3D printed insole platform. Of course, competition is meant to stimulate innovation, which makes us all the more curious about this mysterious upcoming product announcement SOLS has in store for us in the coming weeks.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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