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Case study

TPU material takes 3D printed insoles to the next level

Soft TPU enables shoe insole manufacturers to print fully customized insoles with varying hardness, realized by adjusted structures. The soft TPU filament developed was specially treated to be printable in a stable process. Moreover, the material is recyclable at the end of the product’s lifetime.
Task

Develop a stable, recyclable and soft filament for insoles

The soft filament developed should be stable enough for printing on customers’ 3D printers. The filament has to fulfill all requirements for biocompatibility according to DIN EN ISO 10993-5 and 10993-10 and be recyclable. 

Serial production of orthopedic insoles

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Challenge

A soft filament for a stable process on customers’ printers

The soft thermoplastic polyurethane (soft TPU) filament produced should feature a shore hardness of <80A that does not stick to any parts of the 3D printer or cause problems in the filament feed because of filament deformation. 

It was important to us that the new solution also allow for improved sustainability. With 3D printing, we now enable our customers to produce in a waste-free manner by using only the material that is needed for the shoe insoles.

Marcel Domenghino

CEO, GeBioM Group

Solution

Development of a non-sticky, easy-to-print filament

We developed a biocompatible filament that can be used to print orthopedic insoles using the software and hardware developed by GeBioM and Create It REAL.  

Our Addigy® TPU was harmonized with a specially developed 3D printer from Create It REAL to make it possible to print very soft structures. The filament was specially treated to fit the requirements of fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers and therefore add to a more robust production process.  

With the help of an automated software solution, soft and hard structures can be combined in an orthopedic insole, achieving a level of customization that was previously virtually impossible.  

By using just the material that is needed, waste is reduced. Plans for a recycling program are in the pipeline. 

Our new TPU material and a 3D printer developed specifically for this application make it possible to print very soft structures. The material and printer were harmonized during development to achieve an excellent result.

Lukas Breuers

Business Development Manager, Covestro

Key benefits

  • Customization:  Automated software solution helps to reach a new level of customization.
  • Stable process:  The production-stable filament ensures a continuous FFF production process.
  • Biocompatible:  The TPU is biocompatible according to DIN EN ISO 10993-5 and 10993-10.
  • Less waste:  There is no excess material, saving resources and minimizing waste.
  • Recyclable:  Thermoplastic polyurethane material can be mechanically recycled.

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