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I would like to make custom insoles for my wife.

This company makes a flexible filament that will be soft to stand on: http://recreus.com/en/

I do not currently own a printer.

How can I measure her feet and transfer the measurements to the printer? (one of these comes to mind: http://www.eggheadtoys.com/pin-art/)

How can I measure the inside of the shoe?

What kind of printer can print with the flexible filament?

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Here is a post that covers how to scan a foot and make a form fitting insole - https://web.archive.org/web/20180429035945/http://www.gyrobot.co.uk/blog/my-adventures-with-3d-printed-insoles-part-4-4

Here are links to the rest of the blog - Part 1 of 4 - Part 2 of 4 - Part 3 of 4

Any printer should be capable of the temperature required for flexible filament. The main problem with flexible filament is the path between the drive gears and entrance to the hotend must be completely constrained or the filament will push out of any gap. Ninjaflex is very flexible and absolutely will not work unless you constrain it right after the contact point with the drive gear. Semiflex is another flexible filament but quite a bit stiffer than Ninjaflex, I've never used it but it should be a bit more forgiving on the path requirements.

I know there are several other flexible filaments but I've never worked with them so I only mentioned Ninjaflex which I have used.

The model used in the blog can be found here - http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:586514

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In short, my opinion is that 3D printing is not the most ideal or cost effective means to accomplish your objective. I'm sure with just as much research, you can find an existing consumer product.

However, to answer your question, you have a few options that come to mind:

  • Simply make a mould using supplies from your local craft store. Once a mould is made, look into a castable material that will be comfortable, though this may be difficult.
  • If you're dedicated towards 3D printing the insole. Try getting hold of a local service that can use a 3D Laser Scanner to get a mesh model. The same service might even be able to create solid model of the desired insole if you have dimensions of the shoe you wish to use. Next, you'll need to contact another service to 3D print the insole (most likely in nylon or similar) or, if you have a 3D printer, print the insole yourself. If you are considering printing yourself, and have not before used a material like nylon, please review the material specifications. Some suppliers recommend the use of a heated build plate with these type of materials to ensure the material properties are retained during heating/cooling.

I'm suggesting Laser Scanning as it will be the most economical and flexible means of reverse engineering the dimensions you're requesting. Other options, such as a Coordinate Measuring Machine or X-Ray may would be quite uncomfortable and impractical.

Ultimately, I would look into something like this instead. I'm not endorsing any product or company, but something like this may be the best solution for you.

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Many questions in one post, but I'll address only the first. Consider to use a shoe with a flat insole, perhaps even what is commonly called a flip-flop. If your objective is to perfectly match the curve of her foot bottom, this should work. Apply a layer of polymer modeling clay, plasticine or similar material. It should be warm enough to permit her foot/feet to settle in and push enough material away to remove any voids. If voids appear, one could then add a few blobs and repeat the pressure.

Obviously some will ooze from the sides, which will have to be trimmed away. Trim a sufficient amount to fit her regular shoes and you'll have a reasonable match of the necessary fit.

The resulting shape can then be scanned with a 3d scanner and converted to a 3d model. Even if the clay is excessively thick, the typical 3d model editor can slice away the excess, although one would have to make an almost arbitrary judgement for the location of the slicing plane.

Another option comes to mind. There are various silicone molding products. I've used one from makeyourownmolds.com that is of a consistency of frosting. When mixed together and applied, it makes a perfect duplicate of the item, in reverse. Another product sold at the local HobbyLobby is a similar molding compound that is more akin to the modeling clay.

Both compounds will release easily from skin, are non-toxic and would provide a more durable model from which to scan.

I think one difficulty you may have is how to determine the correct foot pressure and posture to achieve the desired results. The modeling clay would give you more support and probably be more accurate. If your objective is to provide the same support as a bare foot, the silicone molding method would be more accurate.

If you stretch the concept even further, once you have the silicone or clay mold, you would be able to use the pin-art concept. The idea of measuring each tiny pin is mind-boggling, though.

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I have given this some thought prior since, I am also in need of such things, so here is my 2 cents.

How can I measure her feet and transfer the measurements to the printer?

If you want to be very accurate, then you will need a 3d scanner. Failing this, then you're most likely going to have to take an outline. Just let her stand on a piece of paper and draw an outline of her foot. Next get a document scanner and scan the trace. You could also take a photo but you will have issues getting the correct scale. Assuming your outline is black, convert the scanned outline to a vector file using an online source or Adobe Illustrator (e.g https://vectormagic.com). Once you have a vector outline then import it into your cad software and begin modeling the insole.

How can I measure the inside of the shoe?

Remove the exsisting insole (if possible) and scan it in a document scanner.

What kind of printer can print with the flexible filament?

Any direct drive extruder can print with Ninjaflex or other flexible filament. You could also try PORO-LAY, but it is much more expensive. I'd advise you to do you test runs in PLA or something cheap until you get the correct fit.

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