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Polyurethane makes 3D printed orthopedic insoles strong and flexible at the same time

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Orthopedic insoles are individualized soles that help people enjoy more comfort. They are often made by hand from a foam that is less breathable than a printed structure. Addigy® offers different solutions to print fully customized insoles from a digital foot scan in an automated process. The result is an affordable and made-to-measure insole that almost eliminates waste in the production process. Equally importantly, the insole offers the mechanical strength to support lots of walking while at the same time being soft and comfortable.

Task

Create a 3D printed orthopedic insole offering mechanical strength and soft comfort combined.

In order to create a comfortable walking and running experience, orthopedic insoles need to be fully customized and breathable. They also have to be strong enough to support the foot and be flexible at the same time. Covestro and partners wanted to create a 3D printed orthopedic insole that combines all the positive properties this product needs.
Challenge

Develop a material for 3D printing with the right mechanical properties for comfort and support.

Orthopedic insoles have to be mechanically strong and flexible at the same time. Depending on the customer, they have harder and softer spots. Covestro wanted to develop a printing material that fulfills exactly these needs.
Solution

Addigy® allows the creation of flexible and strong orthopedic insoles

Polyurethane has ideal mechanical properties for orthopedic insoles: It is adjustable from very tough to flexible and has outstanding weathering resistance. This material fulfills all the needs of 3D printed insoles. That’s why we developed Addigy® liquid PU resins and TPU powders for 3D printing. They can be processed using a DLP (digital light processing) printer or powder bed fusion and can be adjusted to the desired product properties of orthopedic insoles ranging from more flexible to more rigid. By changing the printed structure, the hardness of the insole can be adjusted. The printed structure also makes the insole highly breathable. This enables the shoe maker to design an insole that gives the right support for every patient. All in all, additive manufacturing offers a solution to print fully customized insoles in an automated process that significantly reduces waste while being affordable.

The field of 3D printing offers totally new perspectives for entire industries. Orthopedic insoles are just one fascinating example of what is and will be possible – including when it comes to mass production.

Lukas Breuers

Marketing Manager, Additive Manufacturing, Covestro

Why Addigy® was the right solution for the orthopedic insole

  • Flexible: Addigy® makes the orthopedic insole flexible and comfortable to wear.
  • Mechanically strong: Addigy® is strong enough to carry the weight of an adult.
  • Adjustable: Liquid polyurethane can be adjusted to the desired properties ranging from harder to softer spots.
  • Breathable: The printed structure makes the surface breathable.
Meet Addigy® – our new brand for 3D printing production. A flexible toolkit of materials and technologies offers tailor-made solutions for additive manufacturing on industrial scale.
Learn how Addigy® can help you scale up 3D printing!
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