Orthopaedic shoes are complex medical devices intended for patients with foot deformities due to amputation or pathologies such as diabetes or paraplegia. Their purpose is to place the foot in a stable position, correct joint problems, relieve pain, and make walking more comfortable again. Custom-made orthopaedic shoes are needed in cases where simple modifications to standard orthopaedic shoes and plantar supports are not sufficient. Creating these medical devices demands true craftsmanship and a lot of experience. Ortho-Lotz was able to add 3D technology to their set of tools, and thereby remove tedious bottlenecks from the manufacturing process.
“The Spentys platform allows our pedorthists to manufacture custom orthopaedic shoes of higher quality and with more precision. Furthermore, the overall production time can be decreased with 3D printing techniques; hence the patients get their new pair faster.” ~ Emilien Bossert, Pedorthist at Ortho-Lotz
The traditional manufacturing of custom-made orthopaedic shoes is a long endeavour that requires the input of several craftsmen. In general, it takes 1 to 2 months before the orthopaedic shoes can be delivered to the patient. Here are the main steps of the traditional manufacturing process:
The traditional process of making a custom-made orthopaedic shoe is one with many challenges. Some parts of the process can be improved with the introduction of new technologies. Let’s have a look at two of these challenges:
It is possible to accelerate the manufacturing process. Together with the Ortho-Lotz team, we implemented 3D technologies to save time while creating orthopaedic shoes that fit better to the feet. Here is how we were able to streamline the process.
First, Instead of making a formwork at the front-end of the foot, using 3D printers, we created toecaps. These plastic caps are being placed on the feet before casting the toes of the patient's feet. The result is a complete shape rather than one that doesn’t include the toes. The toe caps are directly integrated into the mould, and there is no need to make the formwork. Several shapes and sizes have been printed. The material used for the toe caps is TPU, a soft and flexible material that can be slightly deformed to fit the foot as closely as possible.
Furthermore, the rigid copy of the prosthetic foot can be 3D printed. Using a 3D scanner with a sufficient resolution (0,05 mm), we are able to get a digital copy of the prosthetic foot, which can be printed out with your machine of choice. Here are some technical specifications to keep in mind:
Over time, the usage of 3D technologies at Ortho-Lotz has increased and diversified. Today, the pedorthists at Ortho-Lotz use the copies of the foot shape to make pairs of low-top shoes from pairs of high-top shoes or vice versa. For this, a scan of the low-top last is made, and the model is modified to fit the high-top last.
3D technologies have allowed the Ortho-Lotz team to save time, gain in precision, and consequently accelerate and improve workshop operations for pedorthists. Our technology can be used as an extra tool to complete, substitute, or enhance traditional methods to make processes simpler, faster, and more accurate. Our goal here at Spentys is to facilitate the usage of 3D technologies for a frictionless integration with your craftmanship.