Have you ever wanted a shoe that is a customised fit for your foot?
Did you know that within a brand of shoes, generally the same last (the mould that the shoe is made from) is the same across every range within that brand?
However, every foot is unique and often the left and right can differ in the same person. What if you could have your own custom made last of your foot and have your shoes custom made?
Sounds expensive? Unlikely to be available for years to come? Slow to make? All wrong….
With the emergence of 3D printing, custom footwear is about to become a real possibility, without the huge custom footwear price tag.
I attended the Athletic Footwear Masterclass earlier this year with Simon Bartold in March and learnt that athletic footwear as we know it is about to change substantially. The technology is ready and Adidas started 3D printing their range of Futurecraft shoes in 2018.
The next step is to make the mass production method individualised. Using laser scanning, your foot image will be captured and sent to production to make a last of YOUR foot. This can then be combined with a prescription after a biomechanical assessment and gait analysis and sent to the shoe manufacturer. The options will be endless and if you have a favourite shoe you currently wear, it can be individualised for you. As everything is digitally produced, timeframes may be short – within a few days for the last to be made and a week or so for the new shoes.
Much like custom foot orthoses, which we at the Woodvale Podiatrist already have 3D printed, your 3D printed shoes will be able to incorporate the correct foot bed to support your foot in the areas it needs it most. This can be as specific as tailoring the shoe to your positional needs – think of the differences between a goalkeeper in soccer and a striker, or a centre in netball and a striker (both sports that I have played and I am passionate about). They both perform very different roles. At the moment you can get different shoes for different sports, but how much of a difference could it make to your game if you could have a shoe that was not only specific to the sport, but to the position you play as well?
Another major benefit with athletic footwear will be the potential elimination of foot orthotics. Some sports shoes work well with orthotics, but others are limited for space. With customisation of the shoes midsole you will get the support you need without having to worry about orthotics as well. This also eliminates leaving your much-needed orthotics in a different pair of shoes on game day – nobody needs extra stress when you have an important game to play!
In terms of cost, it is currently estimated the sports shoes may only be $30-50 more than the current cost of the same shoe. The last itself (which is yours to keep and reuse until your foot changes significantly) may be around $100. Add in your assessment and scanning fee’s and you could be walking away with an individualised pair of sports shoes at a similar price to what you would pay for custom foot orthotics. Subsequent pairs would be able to be offered at a reduced rate, as you would not have the last or the assessment and scanning fee’s to pay again*
Introduction of this technology is not far away for athletic footwear and I am excited to watch the outcomes and how it may also impact everyday footwear. I also anticipate this could be a huge development for high risk patients, including diabetics and amputees or post-surgery patients.
At this stage we at The Woodvale Podiatrist are not able to offer this service, but I will be keeping a close eye on developments as the technology is introduced. Any future developments will be posted through our website and social media.
*Please note that actual costs may vary and until the technology is in use, accurate costs cannot be provided. Private health fund coverage is also unknown at this stage.