Aug 8, 2016 | By Tess

Earlier this summer we wrote a story about 3D printing solutions company San Draw and its novel Full-color, Adjustable hardness, and Multi-material (FAM) 3D printing technology. Capable of printing out of silicone, San Draw’s new additive manufacturing system offers benefits for a number of fields, most relevantly in the healthcare sector as it could create medical models with varying hardnesses to closely mimic human anatomy. In addition to the medical applications, San Draw’s founders Michael Lu and Gary Chang, have found another practical application for their 3D printing technology: the creation of custom fitted 3D printed silicone insoles.

As we well know, 3D printed insoles have risen in popularity in recent months primarily because of the level of customization which can be attained through technologies like 3D scanning and printing. Insoles, which fit into the inside of your shoe, can be the easiest solution to helping foot pain and making walking as comfortable as possible. Especially for those with foot and back problems, custom made insoles can provide an extra degree of comfort through their bespoke foot support.

While the number of sources for 3D printed insoles is varied and admittedly quite large, San Draw’s founders have boasted that their 3D printed insole is the first to a) be made of silicone and b) to offer adjustable hardnesses for optimal comfort and durability. That is, San Draw’s 3D printed insole can be printed from varying hardnesses in a single print to ensure both comfort and support.

As you can see in the photo, the insole is marked by two different colors: the yellow, which is made from a softer silicone (Shore A20-30), and the brown, which is a harder material composition (Shore A 50-60). The 3D printed insole pictured is a size 9 in US Men’s sizes and was made from a RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive) certified and halogen free silicone material. Additionally, unlike many other 3D printed insoles which require significant sanding and smoothing, the ones made with the FAM system do not require any post-processing and can be worn pretty much off the printer.

The 3D printed silicone insoles, which were each 3D printed in about five hours, are just one example of what San Draw’s FAM 3D printing system can produce. According to the young company, San Draw is promoting its services to a number of industries, including the footwear and medical sectors, as well as the automobile, consumer electronics, and construction industries. Their full-color, adjustable hardness, and multi-material 3D printer, which boasts a build volume of 300 x 200 x 150mm, has a layer thickness of between 0.05 and 0.2mm, and a print speed of 40 to 150mm/s.

If you’re wondering how the FAM 3D printing system works, it draws from CMYK inkjet printing technologies for its multi-material capabilities and is able to 3D print at different hardnesses because of silicone’s material composition. That is, because silicone is solidified from a liquid to solid rather than melted, the type of silicone can be adjusted within a single print making for varying degrees of hardness.

There is no word yet on whether the 3D printing silicone insoles will be made commercially available.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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