Jul 6, 2016 | By Alec

If you have trouble finding insoles that are just right for you, the solution might be as simple as 3D printing a custom pair at home. While that sounds like an impossible design project, Gyrobot’s Steve Wood has just shared a very handy and free browser-based design tool that guides you through all the steps involved in insole design. Called Gensole, it requires little more than a 3D scan of your foot and a 3D printer that can work with flexible filaments, and could be the solution you have been waiting for.

What’s more, Gensole’s maker Steve Wood of Gyrobot knows exactly what he’s talking about. A British mechanical engineer with a background in automotive, aerospace and nuclear fusion engineering, Wood has been working on 3D printed insoles for some time. He is also an expert in flexible FDM 3D printing and the UK beta tester of Filaflex 3D printing filament for Recreus. Over the last few years, he has been working hard on to perfect a 3D printable insole, and even shared a comprehensive guide on insole 3D printing in late 2014.

Over the past year or so, Wood has been working hard to pack all of the knowledge he acquired over the years into a single platform, which became Gensole. He also received help from Damian Axford and Robert Longbottom from the Swindon Makerspace, while the Footworx Podiatry Clinics offered support during software testing.

And the result is impressive. In a nutshell, Gensole (short for Generate Insole) is a free tool which enables users to design custom insoles right inside their web browsers. “It wraps up all of my 3D printing insole knowledge into an easy to use piece of software. You can download the CAD models and/or Slic3r files for slicing and printing at home or alternatively at local 3D hubs,” he tells us. The free platform (for non-commercial uses) ultimately exports .AMF files, which can be imported into Slic3r software and 3D printed in flexible TPE/TPU filaments, such as Filaflex.

As Wood explained, his insole 3D printing efforts have been yielding some very interesting results over the past few years, but it also grew into a chaotic collection of processes. In fact, he merged four different insole processes into a single package: Form fitting insoles that rely on foot scans, variable density insoles which produces different mesh densities to offload pressure, open/closed core insoles which optimize airflow and blood cell stimulation, and shoe profiling. The latter process provides adjustable curves to optimize shoe fit. Through Gensole, all these different parameters are bundled together, making it much easier to produce the insoles that are perfect for your feet.

The only thing absent from Gensole is the ability to add orthotic corrections to the insole, but as Wood revealed, Gensole matches the properties of a foot scan. Simply changing the digital model will enable you to introduce corrective properties. Indeed, that foot scan is the one thing you need to use Gensole, and you will probably be able to get one at a podiatrist.

Gensole is also very easy to use. You simply need to login with an email to use the software, and upload your scan. By following the Gensole tutorial, you can then produce your own digital insole. These are then 3D printed on a 3D printer of your choice, in a flexible filament of your choice. But before 3D printing, you can also print out paper templates that can be used to test the fit in your shoe. “Then profile adjustments can be made and the cycle can be repeated quickly until you are happy,” Wood says.

If you’re interested, give the Gensole platform a try. If you don’t have a foot scan, you can also download a few scan examples on the Gensole website to see if this design tool is right for you. A comfortable fit could be just a few 3D prints away.



Posted in 3D Design



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