3D Printing

Podfo High-End 3D Printed Insoles from Peacocks

Over the past year, Sols has made a good deal of headlines by offering 3D printed insoles, tailored specifically to the feet of podiatry patients. And, while they’ve raised substantial investment funds to back their orthotics, they may not be the first to have developed such a product. As I learned from comments on an article about Sols’ launch, Peacocks Medical Group has been researching the concept of 3D printed insoles for the past two years, or so. I contacted the company’s Marketing Manager, Heather Peacock, to learn about Peacock’s history with their Podfo product, a history that dated back a bit further than I had anticipated.

podfo 3D printed insoles from peacocksAs a fourth generation family medical business, Peacocks works with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) and private practices, prescribing and manufacturing products with the help of their team of orthotic consultants. A few years ago, the company looked into 3D printing to advance their foot orthoses, winning part of a European project dedicated to additively manufacturing solutions for common and debilitating foot problems. Launched in August of last year, Peacocks commercialized their research with the name Podfo.

With Podfo, Heather tells me, “orthotics are created from direct patient scans or scans of casts/impressions. Plantarsurface modelled in CAD then built into a solid shape incorporating novel designs to give progressive flex, variable resistance and a slimline, lightweight design.” As with Sols, physicians can order the custom orthotics for their patients, but, in the case of Peacocks, they fill out a prescription form, which can be accompanied by casts/impressions, plantar scans, and CAD files.

podfo 3D printed orthotics from peacocksPatients then receives Podfo foot orthoses 3D printed via selective laser sintering from the company’s own high-performance polymer.  The insoles can be up to 40% lighter than polypropylene alternatives made through traditional means and, combined with the custom fit, much more comfortable for the wearer.  Peacocks’ product has been tested through 10 million cycles by Newcastle University, with the UK’s standard method for measuring fatigue.

I also asked Heather what the future is for their Podfo product, and the field of 3D printed medical devices as a whole, to which she responded, “We acknowledge that we are currently on the cusp of seeing how far this disruptive technology will take us – and our profession in general. It is exciting and we are fortunate to be leading the field. At the moment we are working mainly with clinicians who are working in high-end biomechanics and sports arena but we believe that 3D printing will become accessible to all for custom foot orthoses. Peacocks are developing new features and products to support the Podfo range as well as looking at applications for other custom made medical devices.”

As the company makes its products more accessible for all in need of custom foot orthoses, others looking to enter into the 3D printed insole market will have some substantial competition.  With its experience, both around its specific Podfo product, and in the field of medical devices, Peacocks brings a long history to the table.  Did you know that the company has been around since the beginning of last century? According to Heather, “[Peacocks] was initially a cutlery maker in the early 1900’s and then, when the First World War broke out, it became tasked with making surgical instrumentation.”