The vast majority of custom orthotics are made from one basic material, EVA foam. Aside from that there is usually one layer of hardened plastic which is used to maintain the shape of the insoles and offer strength and rigidity to them. So if they all use the same materials, where do the differences in cost come from? Well, I’ll tell you little Timmy, they differences in cost from where the various manufactures differ in their design methods. By this I mean how they go about acquiring the geometry of the individual’s feet before they go ahead and make the insoles.
You see, there are many different methods that are at the disposal of the manufacturer, the differences in accuracy of which are typically quite minimal. There are types that use molds, foams, plaster, papier-mâché, digital scanners and even pressure sensors. However all of them essentially accomplish the same task, which is to recreate the points of interest on the bottom of your feet and take those into account when actually manufacturing your insoles. However this still doesn’t quite get into the thick of why some methods are more expensive while others are so much cheaper. Well, this is dependent on a few major points.
The first major point is shipping. Some of the aforementioned methods require boxes to be shipped back and forth across the country. In some cases the mold is shipped to the consumer, shipped back and then the insoles are shipped to them. Three instances of shipping! That’s a lot of postage. The next major obstacle is the methods that require a person to physically help the customer out. Whether they are operating the pressure machine or the image scanner, or they are applying strips of semi-adhesive tape or plaster, their time is worth money, and this drives up the cost of the insoles.
Is there any way around this? Well, yes, remove the shipping and remove the middle men. The only thing that cannot be digitized is when the insoles are shipped form the manufacturer to the actual customer. Everything else can be accomplished online. A person can take pictures of their feet and upload them to the manufacturer. Image recognition technology has progressed to the point where it can derive all of the data necessary from just a few correctly placed photos. As a result, there is no more shipping, and no one around required to help out with a machine or messy plaster.
These are the major design and manufacturing methods for custom insoles .