What Are Custom Insoles? 3D Printing, Custom Orthotics, And More


Custom insoles and orthotics are common treatments for a variety of foot ailments, and they can be quite helpful at relieving pain and correcting other physical or postural concerns. While the two names are frequently used interchangeably, they are distinct goods that perform different functions, so make sure you’re not mixing them up.

What is an Custom and Orthopedic Insole?

We’ll go through what conventional insoles are for those of you who have never worn them before. Insoles are a component of a shoe that allows it to conform to the user’s foot. There are generic insoles, which can be purchased from any store such as Amazon, and orthopedic insoles, which are custom-made for each user and are designed to address specific issues such as flat feet, valgus feet, and club feet.

What are 3D printed insoles?

3D printing technology not only allows for insole customization to the unique shape of each person’s foot, but it also eliminates the time-consuming process of hand-crafting these insoles. This fast, scalable manufacturing technique is also helping many people who have difficulty finding footwear that fits properly.

Orthotic insoles created in 3D are essentially a replacement for traditional insoles. They are made from digital manufacturing and involve CAD software for design, so they can be manufactured quickly with no tooling costs.

Insole production takes on a completely new meaning under this paradigm:

  • The original foot is replicated by 3D scanning instead of using traditional molding.
  • The insole is developed digitally rather than fabricated by hand once the foot is scanned in 3D.
  • Finally, 3D printing is used to create the insole, and you can choose from a variety of materials and even combine several in one model.

What projects involve 3D printed insoles?

There are projects that try to solve the same problem, and we told you about one project called Gyrobot. We will also talk about Zoles, which is another very interesting project.


Gyrobot is an additive manufacturing company that specializes in making products for various industries. They have a product to suit your needs regardless of your field.


Gensole is a browser-based tool that lets us design insoles to be printed with 3D printers. To start, we take an imprint of our foot to provide the base form for our soles. This procedure is called the Solemorph process.


Zoles is a different project, more like other commercial products that consumers are accustomed to. They are a company with less focus on the design aspect because they sell us pre-made soles. It is done by modeling them from photos of our feet which we send to them.

Are Custom insoles and Orthotics Worth It?

  • Making custom orthotic insoles is more than just running some simple measurements; it starts with a thorough exam of your foot, followed by making casts of your feet, and finally the manufacture and fitting of your orthotics. Make sure to choose a provider with years of experience fabricating custom orthotics to ensure you get the best quality for your needs.
  • Ordinary insoles won’t work for everyone. If you have complicated foot problems, aren’t diabetic, aren’t a high- performance athlete, or don’t have an injury that affects your ability to walk without help, you’re probably good with ordinary insoles.

How are Custom Insoles and Orthotics Made?

Orthotics are biomechanical medical appliances. They look like insoles and used to be designed for patients with a gamut of foot problems, but today they can be tailored to suit a person’s specific needs in order just to provide the right support or relieve foot pain thanks to cutting-edge design and materials. Custom orthotics help to protect your feet and even your whole body by reducing the strain that occurs when there is a misalignment in one’s feet. Orthotics correct each foot’s position while also getting rid of motion from walking or standing. Because these orthotics are custom fit to address the same issues with your feet.

Step 1: Casting

The first step is to cast your foot. For this, a physiotherapist will examine your feet thoroughly. A physiotherapist usually deals with foot & ankle concerns and can even diagnose other related leg issues. During the foot exam, we’ll take detailed measurements of your feet and also analyze your shoes. Afterward, you’ll be asked lifestyle-related questions to determine how active you are.

Step 2: Manufacturing

When your doctor prescribes orthotics, they’ll send off a cast with measurements and instructions about what materials, size, and parts you’ll need to have them assembled. The lab will take care of this for you so that it’s a one-stop process. This process creates a mold that produces a cast, which is then put into a cover made of something comfortable and stable.

Step 3: Materials

Orthotic devices need to be both rigid and soft, so manufacturers use common materials like polypropylene or graphite. These are also flexible enough to accommodate the different shapes of customer’s feet. The materials need to be tough with some give because they can resist the different types of foot movements you make without harming you while walking.

What to Look for In Over-the-Counter Orthotics?

If you’re trying to find the right orthotics for your foot issues, we’ve put together our top five tips to make sure you get the right product for your feet.

1. Wear the shoes you already like in order to get orthotics fitted

Despite the fact that orthotics are custom-made for your feet, they must operate in tandem with your footwear to provide the best support. It’s critical to make sure your orthotics work with the shoes you’re wearing (Be it casual shoes, dress shoes, or even your everyday shoes).

2. Understand your foot type and condition

It is important to understand your feet and the problems you are trying to fix before making a decision. Some cushioned insoles may be a quick fix for a while but will not solve the problem. Orthotics seek to support your entire foot and address last functional problems while providing comfort.

3. Think about the activities you need orthotics for

Whether you have a job and need functional support all day, you need something to help you stand in one place for extended periods, or you’re a runner who wants to stay pain-free, the right orthotics can help protect you from wear & tear.

4. Seek professional advice or a prescription

We treat podiatrists at Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers who specialize in foot injuries and know the importance of orthotics. They can protect you from future injury and pain. We are here to keep your feet healthy by giving you education on how to get the most out of your orthotics.

5. Get your pair of custom orthotics made so they fit your feet perfectly

Arlington/Mansfield Foot & Ankle Centers is always trying to provide the best care available. We use state-of-the-art technology to measure your feet and make sure they are in the right position for you. As a result, orthotics are customized for each patient’s needs to improve their condition or make sense of what they’re struggling with.

3 Types of Custom insoles and Orthotics

Rigid Orthotics​

So-called ‘rigid orthotic devices’ are often firm, made of plastic or carbon fiber, and used primarily for walking. They’re molded after a podiatrist takes an impression of your foot.

Soft orthotics

Soft orthotics can absorb shock, increase balance, and provide relief to sore spots. They are made up of soft, cushy, and durable material that helps to take some of the weight off wherever you’re feeling sore. Orthotics are also made from a mold of the foot after a podiatrist takes an x-ray or other image. Soft custom orthoses are useful for diabetic, arthritic, and deformed feet.

Semi-rigid Orthotics

Semi-rigid orthotics are soft foot devices that help in balance while walking or during physical activity. Depending on the sport, they can take various forms. They are custom built to offer support and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.


Your feet are unique to you and deserve individualized attention to help create the strongest foundation for your body and help put your best foot forward!

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Photo by Tom Claes on Unsplash

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