Mar 15, 2016 | By Kira
Something is underfoot in the 3D printed goods market. In the past few weeks Wiivv Wearables, maker of custom 3D printed insoles, broke the record for Most Funded 3D Printed Good in Kickstarter history. Then came underdog Under Armour with the first 3D printed training shoe to hit shelves. Now, 3D printed footwear has made another giant leap into the consumer market: for the first time ever, iMcustom is offering dynamic 3D foot scanning, custom insole design, and finished, custom 3D printed foot insoles available same-day and entirely in-store.
With the launch of iMcustom’s 3D scanning and in-store 3D printing system, which will be available at select Sam’s Club locations as well as other retailers and medical service providers nationwide, customers will be able to walk away with a pair of 100% custom or semi-custom 3D printed orthotics, tailored to their specific lifestyle needs and fully manufactured in under two hours. It’s an industry first, and one that appears to be truly delivering on the promises of reduced cost, wait times, and mass-customization that the consumer 3D printing industry has been making for so long.
The process begins with customers stepping onto iMcustom’s proprietary polymer gel 3D scanner. This dynamic 3D foot scanner, which uses GelSight technology, developed alongside MIT, can recognize, triangulate, and present a person’s foot surface to an accuracy of +/- 1mm. The 3D scan is then converted to an STL file and displayed via a 3D viewer, where an iMcustom agent can analyse the pressure points, potential alignment issues, and identify the most appropriate insole type: Active, Sport, Casual, or Wellness. The 3D scanning and 3D model creation happens in as little as five minutes, with the customer involved at every step of the way.
Once the insole type has been chosen, the STL file is sent to iMcustom’s in-store Print Pod 3D printer lab. Customers can watch via a live webcam as their custom insole is 3D printed on-the-spot using FDM technology in as little as 90 minutes. The insoles are 3D printed in EVA, a high-quality elastomeric polymer with ‘rubber-like’ flexibility and support. The finished 3D print is then topped off with a coat of Alcantara suede fabric for an extra level of comfort.
According to iMCustom, the benefits of 3D scanning and 3D printing over traditional insole manufacturing methods include reduced cost, an environmentally friendly process, the ability to 3D print trial pairs for fitting, nearly zero material waste, and of course, a significant reduction in waiting times.
“iMCustom has created a first-of-its-kind system that is quite frankly a game changer for our industry,” said Glen Hinshaw, CEO and founder of iMCustom. “A process that used to take weeks or sometimes months to produce custom fit insoles has now been reduced to potentially an hour or two, courtesy of our dynamic 3D scanner and 3D printing system.”
After a successful pilot in select Sam’s Club locations, iMcustom is launching their in-store custom insole service nationwide. Retailers and medical offices will be able to purchase the 3D scanning and 3D printing system, offering their customers direct access to accurate, custom insoles. Though the price of the system is undisclosed, the suggested retail price for a pair custom 3D printed insoles is $249, a significant drop from traditionally-manufactured pairs, which can cost upwards of $500 and often require extensive measurements and long wait times.
Customers can also opt for semi-custom, premade insoles. iMcustom’s LockFit insoles come with a range of ‘snap-on’ arch inserts of varying heights that can be assembled within seconds. Alternatively, the Heat-Moldable Wellness insoles can be warmed up in the microwave or with a hairdryer, and then molded to the wearer’s foot. While these options won’t offer the same level of performance enhancement or pain reduction as the 100% custom, 3D printed insoles, they provide affordable comfort without compromising customization or quality. The suggested retail price for semi-custom insoles starts at $89.
iMcustom was founded by Glen Hinshaw, who, as a world champion velodrome cyclist, was all too aware of the benefits custom orthotics can provide, as well as the difficult and expensive process of getting a pair. In collaboration with MIT and Nanyang Polytechnic in Singapore, Hinshaw set out to develop the iMcustom dynamic 3D foot scanner and to apply the most advanced FDM 3D printing technology and materials possible, giving consumers an unprecedented level of access to custom, 3D printed orthotics that can optimize their performance, reduce foot pain, and help them achieve an overall higher level of comfort and quality of life.
Currently, the company has headquarters in both the U.S. and Singapore. “iM, Intelligent Mobility, defines its mission to Digitize the World’s Footsteps,” says the company. In addition to their in-store manufacturing systems, iMcustom's website allows users to order 3D printed insoles online (based on 3D scans taken in store) and have them delivered within 10 days.
3D printed custom insoles will likely not displace the ultra-affordable insoles available from drugstores, nor podiatrist-designed pairs, which will still be necessary for patients with more serious medical needs. However, the fact is that for all of the benefits of 3D printing, it is still a relatively niche technology with few entry points for the majority of consumers. By bringing 3D scanning and 3D printing directly in-store, however, iMcustom is bringing greater visibility to the benefits of 3D printing in our day-to-day lives, and delivering on its long-touted promises of reduced cost, wait times, and mass-customized consumer goods.
Watch the video below to see iMcustom founder Glen Hinshaw himself guiding a customer through the in-store 3D scanning, insole selection, and 3D printing process:
Posted in 3D Printing Application
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