Zoles company manufactures custom 3D printed insoles drastically reducing costs and shrinking lead times

Zoles manufactures customized insoles around Europe using BCN3D printers, speeding up all the process and being able to save up to 80% of the total production costs with each pair. Based in Denmark, Zoles gives to their users an experience of increased comfort and performance when walking and running. The focus resides on producing customized footwear and shoe insoles. Thanks to 3D printing they are now able to fulfill all their clients requirements.

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How the idea started

During the last few years, the footwear and orthotics market has been growing until reaching some impressive numbers. Nowadays, they are being produced 23.5 billion pairs of shoes per year, and the foot orthotics industry is expected to reach a value of 3.5 billion dollars in 2020. An important volume of this footwear market is managed via online shopping and it is still growing 15% per year. From all this online shopping, some studies estimate that 20% of these shoes are returned to manufacturers due to unfit. That is why Zoles focused on producing customized insoles and shoes. The main challenge comes when talking about the production because customization can’t be done on mass production machinery. Besides, it would be too expensive to create individual molds for each pair of shoes and insoles.

The advantage of 3D printing for customization

In order to solve this challenge, Zoles created 3D models of the customized insoles with their own foot analysis and insole design software. Then, using 3D printing was a natural next step to turn into physical models the created designs.

In June 2017, Zoles launched a 3D technology platform that enabled them to make customized insoles and shoes for their clinic customers in Denmark. After a great success, Zoles launched an online platform in August 2018 to let everybody order customized shoes and insoles. The user can take some pictures of his own feet and the software itself calculates how the shoe or insole should be to fit well.

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Zoles studied the printer market to look for the best ones to print flexible filament, and they found BCN3D printers the ideal printers to achieve their goal. Thanks to Bondtech extruders and e3D hotends, Zoles considered the BCN3D Sigma and BCN3D Sigmax as the perfect printers to fit their needs. In addition, they took advantage of the possibility to print in Mirror/Duplication mode, which was used to print a pair of insoles in half of the time as with traditional 3D printers.  

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Zoles has now more than 250 users and the 3D printers will also give them the opportunity to provide local manufacturing with their shoe manufacturer partners in Europe.

They can today 3D print customized insoles of high quality, at a price that can compete with standard insoles. The insoles are made from the flexible material TPU with its high elastic characteristics and ability to bounce back and forth into the shape. Zoles customized insoles cost less than 50% of a pair of orthopedic insoles. It is a great example of a 3D printing application, in which are produced low-volume series of a product.

The main advantage comes when buying online. It can be done in 5 minutes, anywhere and totally customized. Taking 5 pictures and evaluating the user’s feet and problems data, Zoles is able to adapt all the insoles to the user. Check it out at their website zoles.eu

Competitive prices using 3D printers

Because of the low-volume customized production, 3D printing is the best solution in terms of costs and adaptability. In addition, timing is crucial and Zoles can ensure that the insoles will get to the user in less than a week. When using an external supplier it takes more time and the cost per part is higher. The core 3D print production cost less than 20% of the cost of producing a traditionally custom-made insole. Then, it has to be taken into account the preparation cost of making the 3D model, which is much lower than the time to prepare a traditional custom-made insole. Finally, the custom-made insoles are sold at a price of 65€ which is approx 50%-80% lower than what it is paid for traditionally custom-made insoles, so they can compete with standard insole brands.

BCN3D unveils the Sigma & Sigmax R19: A new generation of 3D printers

BCN3D Technologies, the worldly renowned Open Source 3D printer manufacturer, announced today the unveiling of a new generation of FFF dual extruder printers: the Sigma R19 and the Sigmax R19. Featuring new extrusion system with an unmatched performance composed by extruders powered by Bondtech™ and hotends optimized by e3D™, new filament runout sensor to detect material presence, Mirror and Duplication print modes, refined GUI and UX and new slicing software BCN3D Cura 2.1.0.

Today BCN3D Technologies has released the new 2019 printers generation. The new Sigma R19 is a reliable and easy-to-use desktop 3D Printer with IDEX (Independent Dual Extruder System) architecture that delivers high-resolution multi-material parts in a simple and effective way. On the other hand, the new Sigmax R19 is a professional 3D printer with IDEX architecture and a massive printing volume, ideal for those who need to increase their production capacity and manufacture industrial-grade parts.

“The new Sigma R19 and Sigmax R19 are equipped with one of the most powerful extrusion systems so far and also with the unique IDEX architecture. Such a great combination turn both printers into two of the most productive and reliable 3D printers ever seen,” states Xavier Martinez, BCN3D Technologies CEO. “We’ve partnered together with top world manufacturers such as e3D and Bondtech in order to equip our 3D printers with the top-grade components available nowadays in the 3D printing industry.”

Hotends designed and manufactured by e3D™. Sharper details. Accurate prints.

The new hotends have been optimized by the global specialist e3D™. This new partnership with the English manufacturer has allowed BCN3D to work closely with the renowned company in order to equip the printers with top-level features in terms of hotends and extrusion systems. The improved hotends include the machining and engineering know-how acquired by e3D, which ensure the highest quality standards, providing a smooth and reliable extrusion under different printing environments. The new e3D hotends are fully compatible with all previous Sigma and Sigmax printers.

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High-tech dual drive gears by Bondtech™. More power. More control.

The extruder of the new R19 printers is made with aluminum CNC machined body and hardened steel drive gears powered by Bondtech. It provides an incredible grip thanks to its high-tech dual drive gears that have proved to be the best feeding extrusion system, getting rid of grinding issues, no matter the filament used.

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Filament runout sensor.

The new R19 printers include a mechanical switch to detect filament presence, allowing to prevent from one of the most common and frustrating failure reasons. In case of running out of filament during a print job, the printer will automatically pause and warn the user to load new filament to resume the print, letting to save time and money.

Improved GUI and UX. Operate flawlessly.

Through the full-color touchscreen BCN3D users will be able to operate the printer flawlessly thanks to the refined interface that incorporates several new features, offering a smoother and more intuitive user experience.

“For this new generation of BCN3D printers, not only have we worked on creating a great hardware but also in improving the user experience, creating a refined graphic user interface with new informative screens, maintenance recommendations, new guided assistants and access to advanced settings,” states Marc Felis, BCN3D Technologies Marketing Manager. “The ultimate test of a product comes when the users confront it, not just from a list of its specifications. That’s why we’ve taken special care of each phase of the user experience.”

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IDEX architecture. Enabled Mirror and Duplication modes.

All BCN3D Printers are equipped with a unique dual extrusion architecture introduced back in 2015: the Independent Dual Extruder system (IDEX). It allows to print with 2 different colors for an aesthetic finish, or use PVA water-soluble support for intricate parts with overhangs, while ensures the finest surface finish. The idle toolhead remains parked, preventing the dripping of molten plastic into the part.

To take profit of the IDEX architecture, in 2017 BCN3D announced the Sigmax 3D printer with 2 new highly productive printing modes: mirror and duplication. These modes allow to print the same model or its symmetrical with both toolheads simultaneously, and consequently, double the production capacity.

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Now, both the Sigma R19 and the Sigmax R19 are capable to print with these powerful modes.

Interchangeable toolheads. Unleash your creativity.

The new R19 printers are compatible with the Hotend Family, a range of six hotends (with nozzles from 0.3mm to 1.0mm) that enhances the versatility of 3D printing. Small nozzles are ideal for detailed models. Instead, big nozzles allow users to fabricate more resistant parts or for rapid prints.

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Additional enclosure for technical materials. Engineered for reliability.

The new enclosure for R19 printers allows getting a constant interior temperature to prevent warping in technical materials such as ABS, Nylon and PET-G. Furthermore, protects the working environment from potentially harmful particles thanks to the HEPA filter.

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BCN3D Filaments: Industrial-grade materials portfolio.

The new Sigma R19 and Sigmax R19 support the full BCN3D Filaments portfolio, composed by common polymers in several industries that cover the majority of the technical applications: PLA, ABS, Nylon, PET-G, PVA, TPU, Composites and Carbon Fiber.

New slicing software update: BCN3D Cura 2.1.0.

BCN3D Cura is a free and easy-to-use 3D printing software that prepares your model for 3D printing. It provides an intuitive user interface and an improved workflow, both for newcomers and expert users. It includes preconfigured profiles of BCN3D materials so the user can enjoy a better 3D printing experience. BCN3D Cura 2.1.0 has been released together with the Sigma & Sigmax R19.

Upgrade kits to R19 coming for previous versions of BCN3D printers.

With the intention of bringing all these new improvements to the customers that already own a Sigma or a Sigmax, we have designed the new R19 enhancements in order to be able to be offered also as an upgrade kit. Therefore, any owner of an Original or R17 Sigma will have the possibility to update their machine with the new features incorporated into the Sigma R19 thanks to the Upgrade Kit Sigma R19. The same for those users of an Original BCN3D Sigmax, they will able to upgrade their printer with the Upgrade Kit Sigmax R19.

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“Our experience says that being Open Source it has no sense to keep old users trapped in old features wanting them to purchase a new machine to catch up with the rest of the community. Instead, we want the maximum number of users to enjoy the new features, that’s why we will release these kits,” states Xavier Martinez. “Furthermore, following our commitment with the Open Source community, all CAD files of the new R19 3D printers will be published during the following months.”