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3D printing to make ski boots more comfortable

3D printing to make ski boots more comfortable
26 Feb 2014

Skiers who rent their boots are in for a more comfortable experience in the future, after a firm announced plans for an app that will allow people to create 3D-printed insoles. 

New Scientist reports that British start-up ALPrint's app will enable customers to take pictures at home, which are then used to determine the dimensions of their feet. These are then matched by an algorithm to a database of foot profiles that tell the 3D printer what shape to make the insoles. The finished moulds are then sent out by post. 

'If you can't afford £500 for a new pair [of boots] then you can go into any rental shop, put your own insole in and still get an increased degree of comfort,' commented Chris Balmer of Heriot-Watt University, one of ALPrint's founders. ALPrint will charge around £25 for its service. 

3D printing is a process whereby layers of material are built up from a digital mould to create a solid object of almost any shape. As the price of printers comes down, in the future homeowners will be printing off everyday objects using blueprints from the internet.

And in the world of travel, it's not just ski boots where the technology is being applied:

Souvenirs

In the past, getting a street artist to paint your caricature was the only way of getting a personal souvenir, but in 2011, the Barcelona art collective blablabLAB created an installation in La Rambla entitled 'Be Your Own Souvenir', which let tourists print out figurines of themselves. 

Hotels

While the figurines created by blablabLAB were rather crude, as the technology improves, the number of applications for 3D printing is multiplying by the day. One of the latest breakthroughs is a design for a 3D concrete printer that can construct a building in 24 hours. Who knows, in a few years time, you might find yourself staying in a hotel or holiday rental that was printed out. ADNFCR-408-ID-801697958-ADNFCR

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