PodoPrinter Launches Insole Application Specific 3D Printer Based On Blackbelt 3D Technology


dutch outfit PodoPrinter announced the launch of its Sole 3D printing system based on a patented technology brought to the market by 3D black belt in 2017.

The Sole machine was developed as an application-specific plug and play system for the production of custom soles and is equipped with an inclined build plate for parts to be printed at angles of approximately 45 °.

Following the launch of Blackbelt 3D, which sought to use this printing method to “change the paradigms” of molten deposition modeling (FDM), lead inventor Stephan Schurmann decided to implement a solution for a single app originally developed on the larger Blackbelt. Platform. Work alongside colleagues at Blackbelt 3D and filament supplier ColorFabb, Schurmann reduced Blackbelt’s basic 3D printing process to a benchtop system designed to work with one material in one shape for one application.

PodoPrinter offers the Sole printer as a key part of an insole production process that captures the shape of a customer’s feet using scanning devices and pressure sensors, before a digital model is created in the company’s “specialized insole” CAD platform. Here, supporting elements, such as details that can help improve posture or client performance, can also be added to the design, while shore hardnesses between 30 and 65 can also be selected to incorporate the required level. softness or stiffness. Once the design is complete, the data is sent to the Sole printer, where it will be built within two hours and ready for use with no post-processing. The material used is a foaming TPU called Sole Premium developed by ColorFabb and available in a range of different colors.

Talk to TCT, Schurmann explains: “We developed this material especially for this application. It contains an active foaming agent which means that when you print it expands and creates gas inside the extruder so that you are not printing solid material but foam from gas and liquid plastic. By doing this you can print very fast, very light and of course it is an efficient material, so with a spool of material you can print about twice as much if you have the foaming technology and you can print too. twice the speed. “

PodoPrinter believes this process will help improve production times for the custom insole, while also suggesting that its Sole 3D printing system, with no build plate calibration or adjustment required and with its print chamber closed, is as easy and safe to use as a 2D paper printer. In addition, the company has demonstrated its ability to reduce waste compared to traditional methods of making insoles.

“The standard method of manufacturing soles is based on CNC milling and here we have [up to and around] 80% waste, ”said Schurmann. “For the Sole 3D printer, we have a very small bucket of trash that you just beg to ‘purge’ the nozzle, but [CNC] there is a bucket full of trash for a single insole. And they have a lot of ABEs and you can’t recycle that much.


  • Print volume: 170 x 60 x mm
  • Printhead: 1.2 mm
  • Printer size: 51x61x95cm
  • Printer weight: 63kg
  • Machine price: € 25,000 excl.VAT
  • Material price: € 299.75 excl.VAT

PodoPrinter’s Sole Premium material, he continued, can be recycled, but it is not yet possible to reuse it as a filament and maintain the quality standards that the company can currently achieve. It may be something for the future, Schurmann said, with a close relationship with Blackbelt 3D and ColorFabb to stay. The three companies all share the facility space, with Schurmann starting as COO of the materials supplier before his side project became a business in Blackbelt and an application that intrigued him became the latter. business.

With six Sole printers already in the field, the company is now looking to establish a global network of distributors, like Blackbelt 3D, to provide the orthopedic industry with custom insoles. The company is also working with ColorFabb to develop a carbon fiber reinforced material to enable the production of soles with greater rigidity, while Schurmann would not rule out other application-specific production tools being put on the market using similar technology.

“We are actively looking for new niche applications where our technology can provide an advantage and improve the process,” he said. “Absolutely, I see it coming.”


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