NextUPPS

Personalisation of Safety Shoe Inlay Soles Using Dynamic Foot Data

2.8.2023
Bata Industrials

Summary

This project, carried out in collaboration between TU Delft and Bata Industrials within the nextUPPS framework, aims to revolutionise safety shoe inlays using Industry 4.0 technologies like 3D scanning and printing. Addressing the lack of personalisation in current safety footwear, which often leads to discomfort and health issues for workers, this initiative seeks to craft inlay soles tailored to individual foot dynamics. Through comprehensive research, including literature reviews, expert consultations, and market analysis, the project identified the potential of Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) of Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) for creating these custom soles. The design process leveraged detailed foot data from 3D scans and dynamic pressure measurements, enabling the development of a 3D-printable inlay sole with a gyroid lattice structure for optimal pressure distribution and comfort. Prototypes were tested in real-world scenarios, demonstrating significant improvements over conventional inlays. This project not only highlights the importance of personalised inlay soles for worker comfort and safety but also sets a precedent for future advancements in safety footwear manufacturing.

Problem Definition

Current safety shoes often lack personalised fit, leading to discomfort and potential health issues for workers due to inadequate pressure distribution and support. The one-size-fits-all approach fails to address the diverse morphology and dynamic behaviour of individual feet under various working conditions. This project addresses the need for safety shoes with inlay soles that can adapt to the unique shape and movement patterns of each user's foot, enhancing comfort and reducing the risk of foot-related problems.

UPPS Workflow Description

Collect Phase

Collecting

This phase focused on acquiring dynamic foot data through 4D scanning, capturing changes in foot shape under various loads. This data collection was essential for understanding foot dynamics and formed the foundation for designing personalised inlay soles.

Equipment

Advanced equipment such as a laser foot scanner and an XSensor insole pressure measurement system was employed to accurately gather foot shape and dynamic plantar pressure distribution. These tools enabled the team to collect critical data for the design process, aligning with UPPS's expertise in sensors and 3D scanning technologies.

Analyse Phase

Selection

In the analysis phase, key parameters such as peak pressure/weight, average pressure/weight, foot contact area, arch height, and dimensions of the feet were filtered from the collected data. This selection was fundamental for identifying the main characteristics that influence the design of the insoles.

Comparison

A comparison was made of the collected data to identify patterns and differences in foot behaviour between different individuals and conditions. This comparison was crucial for determining areas of higher pressure during activities like walking, essential for the design of the insoles.

Design Phase

Parametric Modelling

In this phase, parametric modelling was used to design the insoles, adjusting the internal gyroid lattice structures based on pressure data. This allowed for customized cushioning properties and structural support, significantly improving wearer comfort and ergonomics.

Co-creation

An iterative development process was adopted, incorporating feedback from users and experts through prototyping and testing. This co-creation approach ensured that the final design of the insoles was informed not only by empirical data but also by the experiences and preferences of the end-users.

Produce Phase

Use Phase

Conclusion

The project successfully demonstrates the feasibility and benefits of personalising safety shoe inlay soles using dynamic foot data and advanced manufacturing techniques like 3D printing. By integrating comprehensive foot measurements and employing parametric modelling to design gyroid lattice structures, the developed inlay soles offer superior comfort and ergonomic support tailored to individual needs. Mechanical testing confirmed the effectiveness of TPU materials in providing the necessary cushioning and durability for safety footwear applications. The user testing and feedback phase highlighted the enhanced comfort and satisfaction among participants, validating the project's approach to personalization. This initiative not only contributes to the improvement of worker well-being by addressing the limitations of conventional safety footwear but also paves the way for the integration of Industry 4.0 technologies in the design and manufacturing of personalized protective equipment. Future recommendations include scaling the production process, exploring additional materials and structures for improved performance, and extending the personalization approach to other aspects of safety footwear. The collaboration between academia and industry, as demonstrated by this project, signifies a significant step forward in the development of ultrapersonalised products and services, offering a model for future innovations in the field.

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