As Internet users become increasingly accustomed to the personalization provided by their Facebook cover pictures and Tumblr themes and the countless variety of products on Amazon. com, they could also begin to expect exactly the same customization and wide selection with regards to purchasing everyday consumer items such as clothing.
Very few manufacturing technologies can handle delivering such individually tailored products simply because 3D printing. Because they are able to translate 3D documents into physical fact, 3D printers can shift from producing one geometrically complex item to another without the need to create entirely fresh injection molds. The bulk customization many anticipate to end up being on the making horizon will likely rely intensely on 3D printing technology for this reason.
One product that may seriously benefit from a 3D-printed touch fits in the niche between your foot and the sole of your shoe. When it comes to insoles, not only has 3D printing matured sufficiently to make mass customization feasible, but orthotics can actually benefit from the technology. Compared to the standard one-size-fits-all approach of bulk manufacturing rather, insoles should be designed to fit their wearer.
At least a few companies want to tackle the orthopedic marketplace by merging 3D scanning with 3D publishing to provide insoles a much- required 21st-century update. Of these firms, Wiivv Wearables stands out by launching the most funded 3D-printed product on Kickstarter.
What It Takes to Make an Insole:
Traditionally, custom shoe inserts are made through such antiquated techniques mainly because plaster casting and foam box impressions. Patients will have their ft cast in fiberglass or plaster or, alternatively, get a foam impression of their foot by pushing them into boxes specially created for the purpose of creating custom made insoles. The cast or impact is then delivered to an orthotics laboratory that utilizes these molds as negatives with which to create the final insert.
Even more recently, 3D scanners have already been developed to create digital types of foot, which are then used as the foundation for CNC milling a foam block into the orthotic insole. Technology by Wiivv and other startups seems to get this process a step additional, combining the widespread energy of smartphones with the additive energy of 3D printing to streamline the process while also making it more accessible to a greater audience.
3D Scanning with the Touch of a Button:
Though smartphones may soon feature built-in 3D scanners, a number of software developers are leveraging the principles of photogrammetry to translate a number of 2D images into 3D models. Wiivv utilizes its proprietary software to transform pictures used with a smartphone into custom-fitted insoles.
The Wiivv iOS app is easy to use. All that’s required is to snap a picture of each foot from the top, with your heel pressed against a wall and on top of a blank sheet of paper. Then, you take pictures from the relative side together with your iPhone on to the floor and leaning against a walls . The same photograph is taken without your feet aswell, giving the Wiivv software program a background that your foot can be isolated.
Without giving away any tech secrets, Manuj Aggarwal, director of software at Wiivv, explained how the software works, “We take the images and run them through a series of sophisticated and proprietary image processing and computer vision algorithms to detect and extract the data from these 2D images and construct a 3D model from it. This 3D model is tell you our customization engine to create biomechanically engineered products then, which best are custom insoles now. ”
The shoe insert is further personalized through the selection of one of six different patterns for the top layer of the insole and one of four different colors for the base. Combined with the 3D model created by the five photos snapped with the Wiivv iOS app, the ongoing company has everything it needs to begin manufacturing the merchandise.
3D Printing for each Individual:
Wiivv can 3D printing a number of insoles within all of its selective laser beam sintering (SLS) 3D printers, located at the firm’s manufacturing amenities in San Diego, Calif. The entire manufacturing process is really a trade magic formula, but Ryan Coyne, director of manufacturing and operations at Wiivv, did admit that there are nonadditive technologies involved in the ultimate construction of the insoles, as well as some company-specific techniques applied when post-processing the products once they are 3D printed.
Coyne explained, “You can find very unique processes and measures necessary to prepare and finish custom made 3D-printed parts. While a vision is being built by us for the mass customization factory into the future, there are many processes which are performed manually that people are building automations for presently. The machines and the various tools we use have been particularly chosen to produce the standard of finish we anticipate from our finished item. ”
The opportunity to 3D printing in-house, in accordance with Coyne, allows the business to efficiently iterate products rapidly and, along with advance the manufacturing technology itself. “[W]e may also be looking to the near future and the capability to iterate on the developing process itself. Wiivv will undoubtedly be at the forefront of the adaptive manufacturing revolution required for the production of mass customized, body perfect gear. ”
The materials used for the process are, again, a closely guarded secret, but Wiivv does rely on some materials from Evonik, a German chemical company that provides powders for SLS such as polyamide 12. The company recently announced that it has joined HP’s Open Platform system and will developing components for the tech giant’s fresh Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology. Evonik can be an investor in Wiivv also, but there has not however ended up any announcement that MJF will undoubtedly be used to produce another generation of Wiivv items.
Using Wiivv’s 3D-printed insoles is a tad easier than utilizing the iOS app. You simply slip them into your shoe and begin walking. The 3D-printed, nylon base is quite firm, but the neoprene cushion and silicone heel pad are extremely soft. The real way that the bottom insoles curve exactly together with your foot makes them a lot more comfortable. The thought of having your name imprinted onto both sides of the orthotics certainly feels individual, like owning a luxury item tailored just to you.
Whether they’ll add “ten active decades ” to my life, like Wiivv hopes its items shall, is yet to end up being determined, however they seem as though they could make moving around on your feet a bit easier.
Beyond 3D-Printed Insoles:
Everyone we spoke with at Wiivv made it clear that the company is not limiting itself to 3D-printed insoles. In actuality, custom inserts are simply a stepping stone to items tailored to the proper execution and fit of each individual.
Shamil Hargovan, cEO and co-founder of Wiivv, hinted that the ongoing firm would begin its product growth in your community of footwear. Hargovan explained, “Wiivv is looking forward to expanding in the footwear space with new products, partnerships, distribution partners and evolving our adaptive manufacturing system to further reduce costs and decrease delivery times. ”
Hargovan further hinted that new apps were on the way that may even involve new mobile technologies (Tango, anyone? ): “Bringing more of our technology straight into the hands of the buyer via their smartphone and leveraging brand-new mobile device technologies are methods Wiivv is concentrating on continuing to grow our brand name and tech stack. ”
Additionally , Wiivv appears to be looking towards the continuing future of manufacturing simply because a whole, probably embarking on a distributed style of production. Aggarwal pointed out that the software is not limited to capturing foot data or even to photogrammetry. Some other 3D scanning technology can be implemented for designing products that fit folks from head to toe.
“The way we are going about building our stack is more of a platform approach rather than an app approach. This system could possibly be used to onboard several manufacturers who’ve much larger capacities and far deeper geographical achieve than Wiivv. We’re able to leverage the power of our software platform to quickly route our custom fitted products to these 3rd party manufacturing services and ship these products to Wiivv customers quickly and efficiently, ” Aggarwal said.
Aggarwal also hinted at the use of other 3D scanning technology that brings Tango to mind, saying, “Moreover, our platform is made to accommodate adaptive manufacturing processes and can work with any input-aka ‘scanner agnostic’-and may produce any format of result. So , than following a particular manufacturing process rather, we are creating a flexible, scalable software platform. ”
Nothing is More Technical Than People:
In other words, Wiivv has a flexible method of manufacturing that quite a few might say is both essential to 3D printing as a way of end production and a far more sustainable manufacturing model overall. Also companies like Airbus have started to provide credence to distributed developing, which would see technologies like 3D printing used to create products locally and on-demand, thus limiting the fossil fuels (and costs) associated with shipping, reducing wastage associated with maintaining stock and promoting local economies.
All of this is leading towards a more personalized experience for individual consumers. Hargovan suggested that “one-size-fits-all” doesn’t apply to modern shoppers. “ What if the same type of customized product could be offered at the same price as its generic substitute and in exactly the same amount of period? This is actually the point of bulk customization-creating a fresh standard that every product could be custom built for every person and their need claims, without more time or cost, ” Hargovan said.
Hargovan added, “One of the most unique and complicated objects in this world may be the human body-from fingerprints to iris patterns, we are unique in many ways. Wiivv is creating body perfect gear that is available for the everyday consumer, custom built for them at a comparable price to the ‘off the shelf’ alternatives. ”
The basic idea here’s that individuals are, after all, individuals. As bulk customization becomes possible, not merely will our social media marketing pages reflect our individuality, however the products we eat will too. Wiivv, specifically, aims to operate a vehicle this trend. The firm may be starting with insoles, but it’s clear that new products will be rolled out just as new 3D printing and scanning technologies hit the market.
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