LEVERKUSEN, Germany—Covestro present the prototype for a new application of its TPU materials for additive manufacturing at the upcoming K 2019 trade show, to be held in Duesseldorf, Germany.
The company will showcase 3D printed orthopedic insoles for shoes, efficiently produced using "an automated and completely digitalized process that generates almost no waste," Covestro said in an Oct. 1 statement.
Traditionally, orthopedic insoles often are produced by hand through a time-consuming machining process.
The part in question is in the form of a 3D file that can be sent anywhere in the world. On site, a printer uses the data to produce the physical product, in small or large quantities.
"Thermoplastic polyurethane is the material of choice for this application, thanks to its favorable range of properties," Patrick Rosso, head of additive manufacturing at Covestro, said in a statement.
The company's TPU products cover a wide range of hardnesses, which can be adjusted by changing the printing structure. This allows manufacturers to print shoe insoles that are completely custom-made with hard or soft contact areas, according to Covestro.
Covestro and an unnamed partner are testing different sole designs to determine which are the easiest to print and the most durable. Initial tests, according to Covestro, have been "promising," both in terms of functionality and longevity.
Covestro maintains that the production of conventional insoles, which are currently made by forming or machining rigid foam blocks, can be improved using 3D printing process.