GeBioM mbH has resulted in the development of a new solution for the production of custom insoles. Together with Danish printer partner Create it REAL, the companies are now able to produce precisely made-to-measure orthopaedic insoles using 3D printing.
The family-run GeBioM Group, headquartered in Münster, Germany, develops software and technology, with a focus on the digitalisation of biomechanical applications. Its proprietary CAD application includes a component called Cubix that enables the individual setting of degrees of hardness in insoles, which are subsequently 3D printed. Simply by changing the printed structure, the hardness of the insole can be adjusted - and the printed structure makes the insole highly breathable.
The filament material used is a new Addigy FPU 79A thermoplastic polyurethane from Covestro. The printer was specifically built for use with this TPU material and for this application, said Lukas Breuers, 3D printing expert at Covestro, in order to be able to print very soft structures.
“The material and printer were harmonised during development to achieve a perfect result," he added. "With the help of the automated software solution, soft and hard structures can be combined in a shoe insole, achieving a level of customisation that was previously virtually impossible."
The TPU also meets the requirements for medical devices with regard to cytotoxicity and skin sensitisation in accordance with the DIN EN ISO 10993-5 and 10993-10 standards.
Next to enhanced functionality, the solution also offers an improved ecological footprint over current insole production methods, which generate large amounts of waste.
“Moreover, the insoles themselves are hazardous waste after use,” said Marcel Domenghino, Managing Director of GeBioM.
“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 insoles."
Covestro is currently working on a recyclable TPU for this application and is developing opportunities with GeBioM and value chain partners to recover used insoles for recycling. Already, the spools on which the filament is wound are reused. The development is part of a global strategic programme to fully align the company with the Circular Economy. Components of the programme include innovative recycling technologies and the increased use of alternative raw materials such as biomass, CO2 and plastic waste, as well as renewable energy.