As part of its latest round of technological advancements, Aetrex is launching a 3-D-printed custom orthotic alongside its traditionally made insert and footwear lines. The product will be produced in partnership with EOS, the global market leader in industrial 3-D printing and additive manufacturing.
Aetrex has been renowned for comfort footwear since its inception in 1946 and for foot scanning since 2002, when it launched its first iStep scanner. This new technological innovation utilizes the company’s emphasis on comfort and newest Albert scanner to determine exactly what kind of support the customer needs in each area of the foot. For consumers, the custom orthotic should provide highly targeted comfort and alleviate pressure where they need it.
The 3-D-printed orthotic can be produced in under two weeks, from scan to receipt, but the process is highly technical. The Albert scanner comprises 5,000 gold-plated barometric sensors, 960 LEDS and receptors, and 18 cameras, which capture complete foot data with AI and computer vision-informed software. A pressure map of the foot is then created using 265 degrees of varying pressure for greater accuracy. The entire scan takes under 30 seconds.
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“Our scanning technology is able to provide unmatched data about each unique foot which informs the resulting design — with complete data we can offer what is quite simply the most accurate custom orthotic available,” said Larry Schwartz, CEO at Aetrex Worldwide.
Customers can expect to pay $150 for a custom orthotic. Upon purchase, the scan’s data is sent to the EOS printing facility. There, it is manipulated into a 3-D CAD drawing that takes into account the level of support that each individual foot will need in each area. The final design is then fed to the 3-D printer, and the finished item is shipped to the recipient.
For the consumer, the benefits are clear: a more accurate and personalized orthotic for improved comfort. However, retailers also stand to benefit, as the product requires no inventory and therefore no future markdowns for unsold product. Customer satisfaction is expected to be high due to the product’s individualized nature and the scanners themselves, of which 5,000 have been placed globally; they are also a popular tool to attract customers in-store due to the experiential factor.
Aetrex’s product launch comes as the footwear industry continues to home in on sustainable practices. The broader 3-D-printing model is in line with this mission, as it reduces waste through greater accuracy and to-order production; the Aetrex 3-D-printed orthotics also use recyclable materials that can be reincorporated into the production process. The program will be rolled out to select retailers in February 2019 and made available to a wider consumer base in the following months.
“Our drive to create a next-level custom orthotic started with the guiding principle that no two feet are alike,” said Schwartz. “Customers scan, we print, and we ship — it is that easy.”