Jan 31, 2019 | By Cameron
In 2017, HP launched the FitStation that uses 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies to create custom insoles. They’ve recently expanded the platform to more stores and the FitStation is now used by all 32 NFL teams to make customized footwear for each athlete.
The platform is equipped with four FDA Class One lasers for 3D scanning as well as a gait pattern capture mat with 8,192 sensors that capture 500 data points per second. The data is used to recommend the ideal shoe and to model a custom insole for 3D printing on a multi-material HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printer. The insoles have varying densities throughout their shape, providing flexibility closer to joints and more stiffness for areas that need more support.
The NFL adopted the technology to increase the safety factor for players. A 300-pound linebacker puts a tremendous amount of pressure on just a couple square inches of their feet, so shaping the insole and shoe to the shapes of their feet could mean the difference between an amazing block or a broken toe. The platform has revealed that many of the top athletes have large deviations in the dimensions and pressure points between their left and right foot, meaning an off-the-shelf pair of cleats would never fit them correctly.
Unfortunately, that’s probably true of much of the human population: the left foot and right foot are slightly different from one another. The average person may not have a multi million-dollar contract on the line, but health and comfort have their own values outside of athletic performance. HP pushing this technology nationwide will bring more attention to the fact that some people need custom footwear, and their use of 3D printing will certainly reduce the cost of delivering the solutions.