February 4, 2014

For decades, insoles have been purchased at shoe stores for the purpose of providing more comfort to the foot and leg.  Orthotics have been prescribed by podiatrists to help those with severe pain handle the daily grind of walking.  Neither have really advanced all that much in the last couple decades.  Now with the increasing popularity of 3D printing, this could be about to change.

SOLS, a company that has recently raised $1.75 million in seed funding, looks to venture where no other company has in the past.  They are using the technology of 3D scanning & printing to personalize both insoles and orthotics for clients.

Kegan Schouwenburg, CEO and co-founder of SOLS, recently talked with about SOLS, as well as how she came up with this brilliant idea.

“I came up with the idea for SOLS back in May when working at Shapeways. I saw a lot of parts coming through the factory but kept asking myself, ‘What would be the product that pushed 3D printing past the maker market, and towards the consumer be?’  A lot of people are focused on this application layer right now. Everyone sees the promise of 3D printing in the consumer sector, but very few people are answering the question ‘what should we make?’”

This is so true.  There are a ton of awesome looking 3D printed items out there, but when you ask yourself, “How many of these things have actual everyday practical uses?”, you would probably find that very few do.

SOLS has already teamed with 15 podiatrists, to launch their beta phase.  These podiatrists have already begun testing the product in-office.  However, Shouwenburg has hopes to expand this farther:

“We’ll be scaling in this sector over the course of the next year, and eventually launching a secondary product line that is direct to consumer.  We expect that to be in early 2015″

Schouwenburg explained that the whole process of creating an insole/orthotic is a 3-step process.  You first begin by scanning your foot for 10 seconds using any standard smartphone or tablet.  The specialized application will work like a 3D scanner does, and take a complete 3-dimensional scan of your entire foot.  You then select a few options for customization, including the color you would like your insole to be.  After a short amount of time, you can then expect to receive your printed SOLS delivered directly to your door.  How’s that for convenience?

SOLS come in a variety of colors, are antimicrobial, repel odor and sweat, and are made out of a very durable nylon material, that promises to stand up to the harshest treatment.  SOLS are washable, and built not only for the shape of your foot, but also for your weight and level of activity.

You are probably wondering how much a pair of SOLS will cost you.  Typical orthodics that are prescribed by podiatrists cost in the $500-$1000 range.  However, prescription SOLS will be priced in the $300-$500 range, depending on provider and region.  The direct-to-customer insoles which Schouwenburg tells us will be focused more on performance and comfort will cost around $100.

We asked Schouwenburg how someone can become SOLS certified, so that they can begin selling SOLS to their patients.

“Medical Professionals can apply directly through our website. We are currently taking applications across the US but are focused on a city by city roll out. NY is first.  Once applied, we connect with them directly to qualify their credentials and practice, and once qualified, set them up with a training session to understand how to prescribe and sell SOLS.”

The training is very important because traditional orthotics are static, whereas SOLS are more dynamic in nature.  “This is a very new concept for the industry,” explained Schouwenburg.

At the present time, SOLS is not looking for any more investors, but they do plan on looking to start raising another round of funding later this year.  More details on SOLS can be found via their website at

What do you think of SOLS?  Would you be willing to spend the money to get a completely customized insole or orthotic? Discuss at:

SOLorange SOLScrops SOLSmodel SOLSwhites


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