KW Special Projects is teaming up with the advanced foot orthotics manufacturer Podfo Ltd to launch a ‘while you wait’ 3D printing service for customized insoles.
KW Special Projects (KWSP), the engineering solutions provider based in the UK, has begun work on a £750,000 project to develop a ‘while you wait’ service for personalized 3D printed insoles.
The project, which is in part funded by Innovate UK, is aiming to create an in-house 3D printing ecosystem for personalized insoles by 2019. The orthotics manufacturer Podfo Ltd and experts from Newcastle University have also joined the scheme.
It’s an ambitious plan, but the team is confident in the capabilities of additive manufacturing. Kieron Salter, Managing Director of KWSP, explains that the project demonstrates the benefits of 3D printing in the orthotics sector.
“We will tackle the project by providing new thinking on two fronts. First of all, we intend to exploit nascent technologies to significantly reduce the time it takes to produce these parts using AM , alongside reducing the overall development cost,” he said.
The service will entail an orthotics kit that enables clinicians to measure a patient’s individual sole and gait. Directly after, they will be able to 3D print the personalized insole right on-site. Depending on the needs of each patient, the orthotic device can help realign the foot, improve posture, or address other medical issues.
Podfo, one of the consortium members, was one of the first companies to produce 3D printed foot orthotics. Using Computer Aided Manufacture data from each patient, clinicians can take on-the-spot sole measurements with high accuracy. This will help streamline the production process, provide greater efficiency, and also reduce the overall development cost.
Jari Pallari, Innovations Director at Podfo, adds:
“We are delighted to combine our expertise with other industry leaders, in order to produce a new, smarter way of creating orthotics, placing more control for a defined orthosis in the hand of the clinicians.”
According to Pallari, the service will offer significant benefits to both patients and clinicians. The customized 3D printed insoles “help reduce the strain from a broad spectrum of medical issues”. Additionally, the insoles will be tailor-made for each patient, increasing comfort and providing a perfect fit.
A number of companies have been utilizing 3D printing technology to produce customized insoles, including Wiivv and SOLS. However, what seems to make KWSP’s venture unique is the ‘while you wait’ aspect of the project.
By leveraging the advantages of additive manufacturing, this collaborative effort will attempt to make orthotic solutions easier to obtain, one comfortable step at a time.
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