Jan 22, 2016 | By Alec

Could 2016 also be the year for 3D printed sporting goods? This sector has been very quick to respond to the concept of 3D printed custom-fitting products, as so many athletes could benefit from it. Belgian company Phits Insoles has just been honored with the first prize in the Health and Fitness-themed competition of sporting goods giant ISPO for their 3D printed, custom fitting 3D printed insoles. This could again bring 3D printed sporting goods into the spotlights.

If you’ve never heard of Phits Insoles before, that might be because they recently changed their name from RS Print. However, their product is perfect just the way it is. If you’ve ever needed insoles to correct some sort of walking problem, you’ll know that finding the perfect fit is almost impossible. Let alone finding a pair that will continue to do its job whether you walk, run, jump and so on. But that’s what Phits Insoles are. Made by 3D scanning your feet and 3D printed through Materialise’s high quality SLS 3D printing service, these are the foot solutions for the 21rst century. “We're the first in the world to bring a 3D printed translation of movement. That’s a big difference with the classical orthopedic approach. Because we work with only one material that is laser sintered, we can bring variations in material, which is not possible when working with other materials and traditional manufacturing methods,” Marketing Manager Tom Peeters explained of their work.

As the company recently explained, they partnered with Belgian 3D printing specialists Materialise to establish a solid base for their footwear. Based on gait analysis, their 3-maticSTL and Streamics Robot is used to automatically design custom insoles, but this process is unique in at least one respect: orthopedic specialists can still provide feedback in a user-friendly manner to ensure that perfect fitting insoles are created. The final design is then sent to the Materialise production facility through the company’s Streamics system, which automates 3D printing production as efficiently as possible. It’s also possible to completely scale up production, giving Phits Insoles all the control they need.

This entire system, and the 3D printed insoles themselves, are especially remarkable when you hear that the company was only founded back in April 2014. As Peeters explained, they are also a bit shocked to have an award-winning product in their hands. “And it’s not some obscure award handed out by an obscure organization at a fair held in some shabby shed. None of that… our Phits insoles just won the ISPO Award and that feels really great,” he says of the victory for their 3D printed insoles. ISPO, as you might know, is one of the world’s top sporting goods networks and is based in Germany.

He further revealed that this award is the crowning achievement on a start-up enterprise that simply found all the pieces falling into place with the help of 3D printing. “Over the last few months, all the pieces started fitting together, product- and marketing-wise. By trial and error, RS Print 3D Printed Custom Orthotics became Phits™ Insoles,” he says. “And that this is just the beginning of a journey. Perhaps a journey that results in more awards, who knows. Most certainly a journey that will be bumpy, cold, rainy and lonesome at some stages—but with this team, anything goes. The key factor is not so much academic excellence, slick sales and marketing skills or high-end management strategies. It’s about gut feeling, about passion, about cleverness.”

With this achievement in their pocket and the backing of professional athletes, from cyclists, marathon runners to members the Belgian national football team, it’s clear that we haven’t heard the last of Phits.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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