When Wiivv Wearables was founded in the summer of 2014, the team set out to build a company based on three core tenets: mass customization, localized production and little to no inventory. When looking at the markets available, the founders felt there was an opportunity in the footwear market. They designed their business around rapidly delivering custom orthotic insoles for customers who sent in their foot data using the company’s mobile phone app.
"We thought the orthotics market was wrought with opportunity for disruption," says Shamil Hargovan, co-founder and CEO, Wiivv. "We gave ourselves a difficult design challenge: collecting high-quality data from the ubiquitous smart phone to make an individualized product that would have an impact on people's lives."
In order to rapidly create the custom insoles, Wiivv selected 3D Systems’ SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printers – in this case the sPro 60.
“We examined at least 20 different product options and the sPro 60 was the right product for our use case, with the right yield and service model for us," said Hargovan.
The team says 3D printing has enabled them to remove most of the limitations of traditional manufacturing and focus solely on how to solve the problem at hand.
"It allows us to be 100-percent custom with our insoles. Otherwise we would have to cut individual tools, get castings of each foot for heat molding, and use many other expensive or time-consuming processes," says Michael Salmon, design lead for Wiivv.
Annually, Wiivv is producing tens of thousands of custom insoles with its 3D Systems sPro 60 systems. The company aims to change that to hundreds of thousands with the release of new products.
One such product is the Wiivv custom-fit sandal, which efficiently integrates the 3D printing process used for Wiivv’s individualized arch supports with other elements made using more traditional processes. Although straps and toe thongs are produced with injection-molded techniques, they are still customizable. The straps can be adjusted and replaced, and the toe thongs are assigned to one of three positions based on the customer's smart phone photos. The Wiivv team has now started a new kickstarter campaign to launch the sandals.
To learn more about the mass custom manufacturing process used by Wiivv with 3D Systems, please visit the case study.