Orthopedic shoes and orthotics might not always be synonymous with comfort and style, however, there is one woman who is setting out to change all of this using 3D printing technology. Kegan Schouwenburg is the CEO and Co-Founder of SOLS, a company that is working to incorporate 3D printing with footwear. At just 29 years old, Kegan is already a trailblazer in the industry and states that one thing in particular that motivates her to do what she does, is that she does not want "orthotic to be a dirty word". Having grown up wearing orthotics, she believes that everyone should be empowered by their footwear to “walk further, run faster, jump higher and dance longer”.
SOLS has recently reached its first birthday and already has an impressive $8.5 million behind it. Through a balance of fashion, comfort and functionality, the SOLS shoes are set to revolutionise orthopedic footwear, bringing relief to those who need it!
The concept itself all gets started on an iPad with an app that takes six photographs of the customers foot. The app is then able to assess the customers measurements and create data points which are then communicated to the 3D printer. This is when the physical printing process begins. As this is completely digital, the time it takes from taking the photos to the beginning of the printing process is less than ten minutes. The additional benefits of an entirely digital process are that there is minimal waste and overheads are kept down.
The company is currently only offering their services through medical channels. However, as they continue to expand, they intend to make a mobile app available that potential customers can access directly. This will allow them to take their own photographs and then be given access to a reduced price prescription. When we consider how expensive orthopedic footwear can be, this potential for aligning cost and quality is extremely exciting.
If you don’t wear orthopedic shoes, or use orthotics, then you may not understand the struggle faced by those who do. With the progress that SOLS is making in their cool and comfortable orthopedic shoe mission, you may not ever have to!
For those of you who don’t know, 3D printing is the process of making a three dimensional physical object from a digitally created file. It has exploded in popularity in recent years for a wide range of reasons and is bringing innovation and incredible developments to many industries!