This 3D Printed Insole Will Make Wearing Heels Hurt Way Less
If your feet hurt from pounding the pavement all day, Kegan Schouwenburg is about to become your new BFF. Kegan is the CEO and co-founder of SOLS, a company we told you about last year that uses 3D materials to create custom and supportive insoles based on a wearer’s biometrics. Thanks to Kegan, every shoe you own could become your most comfortable pair. We chatted with Kegan about her inspiration, her passion for 3D printed technology and her ultimate vision for her company.
The inspiration for SOLS came to Kegan in 2014, when she was working as the Director of Industrial Engineering at Shapeways, a 3D printing company. She had been helping build the company’s production efforts in the United States, which gave her an opportunity to see the incredible impact 3D printing could make on product manufacturing. “I remember thinking: What market is no one looking at? What application is no one addressing? Why is it 2014, and my feet still hurt? Shouldn’t someone have fixed this by now?” Fueled by a passion to solve this problem at a mass scale, Kegan left her position at Shapeways to work on SOLS full-time. “At Shapeways, I was always interested in creating tangible products that spoke to human interests and desires. That same dedication to making the world more beautiful led me to SOLS and serves as my driving force to build a company that will impact others lives,” says Kegan.
Kegan’s interest in 3D printing started long before her Shapeways days. She began experimenting with 3D printing in college and wore orthotics long before then. “I grew up wearing orthotics. Not only were they weird, but they also meant not being able to wear the shoes I wanted to wear,” says Kegan. Customization is central to SOLS’s mission. “I believe that mass customization is how all products will be consumed in the future. More and more consumers aspire to have a product that fits their lifestyle and is curated to their interests.”
SOLS insoles are custom-fit for each wearer. The entire process — from capturing three images of a wearer’s foot through the SOLS app to filtering the wearer’s info through a series of algorithms and sending the product into production — takes less than two weeks. Even better: SOLS are shipped straight to your doorstep. SOLS also works with more than 400 medical providers who use SOLS’s app and technology to prescribe orthotics to patients. For Kegan, this is a step in the right direction to shifting the 3D printing market from novelty to utility. “Things will really start to get interesting when we stop looking at 3D printing as technology for the sake of technology and start thinking about how it can impact the things in our lives that matter to us.”
Kegan says the future of SOLS has many, many legs — not just a custom insole company. SOLS has already made its first foray into custom shoes with ADAPTIV, their vision for the future of footwear. The shoe uses a system of gyroscopes and pressure sensors to move air pressure and fluids within the shoe to support the body’s shifts and motions. “I want the next generation to live in a world where products are custom fit because it just makes sense, and the very thought that we ever put people into sizes is laughable, in the way that carriages were to cars,” says Kegan. “If SOLS can lay the foundation there, then that, to me, is success.”
If you’re in the New York City area between now and June, you can check out the #SOLSonBowery pop-up shop to celebrate the launch of the company’s first consumer-facing app. While you’re there, you can get digitally fitted for your very own pair of customized SOLS. With planned events such as “Martini Mondays” and the “SOLS Run Club,” we suggest that you run, not walk to #SOLSOnBowery. A full calendar of dates, times and details for each event can be found on the SOLS Facebook page.
Are you bold enough to quit your day job to follow your passion like Kegan did? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.