In an effort to accelerate the proliferation of the FitStation powered by HP platform for custom 3D printed insoles, HP Inc. is partnering with Materialise and 3D printed insole specialist RSPrint. Through the agreement, the end-to-end 3D footwear solution will integrate software by Materialise for 3D design automation, print preparation and production management. The AM giant says footwear brands will now have the “opportunity to express their unique brand proposition” through the ability to produce custom insole products on-demand.
Introduced in September 2017, FitStation powered by HP is a novel platform that combines 3D scanning, dynamic gait analysis technology and 3D printing to produce bespoke and custom-fit footwear. Through the integration of Materialise’ software suite into the FitStation platform, footwear companies will have the capacity to design custom shoes without worrying about print preparation and production management. The ultimate goal of the integration is to enable footwear brands to scale up their 3D printed footwear business “with efficiency and reliability.”
“3D printing holds the promise of revolutionizing the footwear industry by offering a level of customization never seen before,” said Fried Vancraen, Materialise CEO.
3D printing is increasingly being implemented by shoe manufacturers, who are seeking to leverage the technology’s on-demand production capabilities and customization. Critically, FitStation powered by HP makes it possible (in terms of cost) to implement mass customization for footwear in a de-centralized manner. In other words, retailers will have the ability to manufacture products on a made-to-order basis, eliminating the need for inventory warehouses and related costs.
From a design perspective, 3D printing also offers shoe manufacturers the unique ability to integrate design optimizations, such as lattice-type structures, into insoles to offer better functionalities, like extra support and more lightweight shoes. Finally, because of the custom-fit nature of the 3D printed shoes, retailers can expect fewer product returns.
By simplifying and automating the footwear design and 3D printing process, HP, Materialise and RSPrint are aiming to promote and accelerate customized 3D printed footwear. As an expert in many additive manufacturing applications, Materialise has been working on custom 3D printed insoles since as early as 2014, when it partnered with gait-analysis firm RS Scan to introduce Phits 3D printed insoles.
Interested in custom 3D printed footwear? Brooks Running Company recently partnered with HP Inc. and Superfeet to develop the first performance personalized running footwear to be based on custom biomechanics. As of November 2017, the companies were preparing to launch the 3D printed footwear starting next month.