3D Printing Innovation

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, started in Japan in the 1980s. We began experimenting with our first 3D printer around 2010. As the technology improved, we invested in newer 3D printers that allowed us to learn and grow with each iteration. 

Our goal was to produce orthotics of the same quality as our traditional custom orthotics. This technology reduces manual labor, waste, and manufacturing inefficiencies, leading to a digital future that is more accurate.

We invested over a decade of research and development into understanding 3D printing and how it benefits our customers. SOLO will never compromise quality.

The HP MJF Printer

Since 2018, we have partnered with HP, a trusted leader in 3D technology, to produce high-quality, reliable 3D printed devices. The HP Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology provides excellent dimensional accuracy and fine detail, replicating the characteristics and performance of SOLO orthotics. The HP MJF printer enables high-volume production, which traditional manufacturing methods cannot achieve. We can continuously print 24/7, allowing us to plan production times more accurately. This helps to increase productivity and reduce errors. See the HP MJF printer in action below.


PA-12 3D Material

We use PA-12, a robust thermoplastic that produces strong, high-density parts, to create orthotics that are rigid, semi-rigid, semi-flexible, and flexible. PA-12 has biocompatibility certifications, meeting USP Class 1-VI and US FDA guidance for intact skin surface devices. It is safe to use and not classified as hazardous according to regulation EC 1272/2008. 80% of the surplus powder is reusable, creating less waste. The benefits include its mechanical strength, heat resistance, and biocompatibility. 

PA-12 provides a similar stiffness to polypropylene, with 20% higher tensile elongation, an equivalent energy return ratio, and twice the abrasion resistance. The printed orthotics are more representative of the intended design compared to thermoformed devices which can have distortions inherent in the forming process. Duplicate pairs are significantly more reproducible.

Reshaping the Future

We’ve printed over 100,000 devices using this technology, but you always have a choice of traditional craftsmanship and materials. Printed orthotics carry the same lifetime plate warranty as our polypropylene shells.

SOLO Labs participated in a study that evaluated 3D printing and traditional manufacturing. Review the test methodologies and results

Recently, CMS has guided PDAC to acknowledge that additive manufacturing is an acceptable custom fabrication technique.  Here is the link to the publication