Materialise and Tailored Fits go off-piste in 3D printed wearables market

From its beginnings in the 1990s, Materialise has been a pioneer in 3D printing supply chains and applications. Its founder and CEO, Fried Vancraen considers 3D printing technology to be “not just as a fancy new prototyping technology but truly as an industrial revolution”.

This is evident in the company’s latest venture: custom ski boots, produced in conjunction with Swiss startup Tailored Fits.

Tailored Fits ski boot with insert on display/image via Disruptive
Tailored Fits ski boot with insert on display. Photo via Disruptive

A Tailored Fit in 10 minutes

As a result of the partnership, Tailored Fit ski boots can either be customized with made-to measure hard lining, or fitted with a 3D printed insole. 

Made from flexible 3D printing material TPU 92A-1 (Thermoplastic Polyurethane), the inserts are produced using the scans of individual customers’ feet.

It takes only 10 minutes for Tailored Fits’ specialist retailers to obtain the necessary data from a customer. This is then translated into a model for an individualised insert by their design automation software.

In the final step, the insert model is relayed as an print-ready instruction to a 3D printer at the Certified Additive Manufacturing facility at Materialise.

3D printing Tailored Fits custom insoles. Photo via Materialise
3D printing Tailored Fits custom insoles. Photo via Materialise

The “world’s first end-to-end digital supply chain for custom-fit ski boots”

In a data based exchange, the project enables the “world’s first end-to-end digital supply chain for custom-fit ski boots.”

Previously seen as a burgeoning trend across other industries, the digital thread minimises the input of third parties, meaning that the product the customer receives is  closer to the one personally chosen and customised on the product interface.

The finished 3D printed product. An insole for Tailored Fits ski boots. Photo via Materialise
The finished 3D printed product. An insole for Tailored Fits ski boots. Photo via Materialise

Reto Rindlisbacher, CEO of Tailored Fits AG, comments “At Tailored Fits, we understand skiers’ needs and the biomechanics of sports motion. And we have access to one of the world’s best sports gear development labs.”

“From the partnership with Materialise, we gained access to the additive manufacturing expertise to develop the best 3D printed solution for making mass customized production a reality.”

Significance for 3D printed wearables

Before 3D scanning, customized insoles were modelled upon a hypothetically stationary foot.

With the technology, and flexible TPU material, custom 3D printed footwear is produced with a wearer’s “natural biomechanics” in mind. This has the potential to prevent pressure points and pain, “lowering signs of fatigue and reducing wear and tear of joints.”

As the technology grows in popularity, custom shoe printing booths are cropping around the world. Tailored Fits ski boots made by Materialise will be available from leading sporting goods retailers starting December 2017.

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Featured image: Tailored Fits produce custom ski boots with Materialise. Photo via Materialise.

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