Can This Startup Make 3D-Printed Mass Customized Footwear a Reality?
TDL Systems Inc., a Canadian company specializing in 3D scanning, 3D data processing and 3D printing, just launched 3D-printed custom sandals, first of this kind, on a Kickstarter campaign. The 3D-printed custom-made sandal is created by using a full-length 3D-printed custom midsole, a conventional outsole and sandal uppers.
Each sandal is tailored to each person's unique foot to match the plantar contour shape as well as the foot length and width. Feet are different from person to person as well as with the same person from left to right foot. Few people have identical feet. In other words, your left foot might be slightly higher or lower arched, wider or more narrow, and/or longer or shorter than your right foot.
For consumers, 3D-printed custom sandals will be a bespoke product which fit perfectly to your feet to provide ultimate comfort and the right amount of arch support to improve balance and to distribute the body weight more evenly because they are printed from impressions or scans of your own feet. For those who are using foot orthotics to manage their foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, metatarsalgia and leg length discrepancy, a prescription from a medical practitioner (podiatrists, chiropractors and pedorthist...) can be incorporated into the 3D-printed midsole to create 3D-printed orthotic sandals.
TDL Systems goes through the following steps to bring the world's first custom sandals with a full-length 3D-printed midsole into life: (1) foot scan directly on a foot or a foot casting; (2) automatically create a digital model of a custom midsole based on the foot scan data with/without a prescription; (3) virtual fit the midsole digital model with the foot scan data on a computer screen to see if any modification is needed; (4) 3D print the midsole by using a flexible material on a desktop 3D printer; (5) assembly the outsole, the newly printed midsole and sandal uppers together to complete the entire manufacturing process. In addition, the foot scan data is saved into a database for future orders.
3D-printed custom sandals are more than a pair of sandals. It takes personalization to a totally new dimension and represents a brand new mass customization of footwear manufacturing via 3D printing. Imagine walking into a shoe store, getting both feet scanned in minutes, watching how the shoes are going to fit your foot's 3D contour on a computer screen, making modifications, placing an order and few hours later getting a 3D-printed custom shoes. The future of on-demand shoe manufacturing with mass customization via 3D printing is now available for the first time. Are you ready for a pair of 3D-printed custom sandals?
The 3D-printed custom sandals will be available at www.kickstarter.com. Pricing starts at CA$159 a pair.