If you are a skier, you will probably know about the long process of getting fitted for a new pair of ski boots. Before a one can buy new ski boots, it very important that the boot insoles match perfectly with the person’s feet. This is not an easy task, as every foot is unique and it therefore often happens that skiers need a professionally measured insole for their skies, which can be very expensive. A new UK start-up has therefore come up with an app that measures the shape of your feet directly from a simple picture taken from your mobile.
It’s definitely an invention in the category ‘what will they think of next’, but ALPrint, the start-up we’re talking about, really claims only a couple of mobile camera pictures are required for them to be able to do the job. The ‘patient’ only needs to print out an easily printable calibration mat, and to stand on this mat whilst taking pictures.
The app then calculates the measurements of the feet from the photos, after which the start-up uses an algorithm to database the right foot profiles. ALPrint will then analyse the information and use 3D printers to print out the fitting insoles.
“If you can’t afford £500 for a new pair [of boots] then you can go into any rental shop, put your own insole in and still get an increased degree of comfort,” said ALPrint’s Chris Balmer. The insoles printed out by ALPrint will only cost around 40 pounds.
Even though this is a very smart application of 3D printing, ALPrint is not the first company in the sector of orthotics to use the technique. Momentarily different parties are experimenting with 3D printing techniques in the field of podiatry. New York-based company Sols Systems Inc. is one of them. They are basically doing the same thing ALPrint is doing, but they use 3D printing techniques for the purpose of creating custom orthotics, rather than ski boot insoles.
Another company is Australian based team 3D Orthotics. Using high accuracy foot scanning technology and 3D printing technology this team has found a way to produce more accurate orthotics. The technique also helps them to speed up the process of creating orthotics.
“We can scan a patient’s foot within 5 seconds,” said project leader Wesley McCombe. “We process the scan, design the orthotic to a prescription in approximately 5 minutes and make it ready for print complete with labels, textured grip, modifications in another 3 minutes. A heavy portion of this workflow is automated within the cloud environment code we have developed.”
Image credits: ALPrint.