How to Manufacture Custom Orthotics
As a doctor, your main goal is to correct foot position, provide patients with pain relief, and improve their foot health. Ideally, your treatment will help prevent surgery and help them to live pain-free!
Whereas prefabricated orthotics are mass-produced, each custom orthotic is hand-made to the patients’ feet. Because every person has different feet, custom orthotics are made special depending on the individual needs of the person.
At Forward Motion, our mission is to provide you the resources necessary to help you accomplish your goal. Our custom orthotics lab aims to provide exactly what you prescribe to the patient to address their needs and improve the quality of their life.
We often get asked about the process behind creating our custom orthotics. What happens behind the scenes in a custom orthotics lab after the scans or molds are sent to us? We’ll take you on a tour of our facility and show you exactly what goes into making a top-quality custom orthotic.
Custom Orthotic Manufacturing Process
1. Cast a Mold of the Patient's Foot
The first step is to take a mold of the patient's foot. There are many ways podiatrists use to get an accurate, non-weight-bearing cast of their patient's foot. Traditionally, molds are made using plaster or bio-foam boxes. With new 3D foot scanning technology now available, many podiatrists are making the transition to digital orthotic scanning.
At Forward Motion, we use 3D iPad scanners to easily scan patients' feet accurately to the nanometer. Our company also accepts plaster or bio foam casts if the podiatrist prefers. We then use a 3D scanner to make a digital scan when we receive those casts.
2. Add Patient's Data to Database
Our data-entry employees enter patient information into our database to create an order form. This digital record will have all necessary diagnosis and orthotic information and is stored indefinitely. Using the scan, a milling machine grinds a structure of the feet out of wood. If a plaster cast or impression foam is sent in, we use plaster to create a positive mold of the patient's foot.
3. Cast Correction and Adjustments
If needed, our experienced lab technicians can make adjustments or cast corrections to the shape of the foot using custom orthotic insole design from FIT360 software. These adjustments are made based on the doctor’s diagnosis before milling the foot. The foot model is then used to create an orthotic that matches the specifications exactly as the patient needs. Extra adjustments can be made by adding plaster to the mold after milling.
4. Heat Mold the Orthotic Shell
Our PRX orthotic shells are made of a special material that allows them to be heat molded. Once heated, another machine uses vacuum pressure to form the plastic around the shape of the patient's foot model.
Excess material is grinded away and posting can be made directly to the shell. Each orthotic shell comes with a lifetime shell warranty guaranteeing the PRX shell will not break or lose its shape.
5. Add Padding and Accommodations
After the shell is molded and adjusted correctly, accommodations will be added and layers of material are glued to the shell. Our custom orthotics typically have a bottom cover and a top cover as well as a layer of Poron padding in between.
We use a special grinding technique called "skiving" to grind the edges of the poron down to make the orthotic as thin as possible.
6. Cutting Orthotic Shape
Once all the layers are glued together, the device is hand-cut into the shape of the patient's shoe and the edges are sanded down smooth. The length of the cover can be customized to be full-length, sulcus-length, or shell only depending on customer preferences.
7. Quality Checked
When the orthotics are finished, each orthotic is checked by hand to make sure it meets all the specifications of the order form. Custom logos are printed on the top cover of the orthoses at this stage if the podiatrist has a logo on file.
8. Prepare for Shipping
After the orthotics pass their quality check, they’re individually packaged up and sent out to the doctors for distribution to the patient. We offer free shipping both ways within the continental USA if any adjustments or modifications need to be made to the the orthotics.
As you can see, the entire manufacturing process of a custom molded orthotic is a lot longer and more complicated than prefabricated orthotics that are machine made in a factory!
We believe that quality products are important to living a better life.
Patient satisfaction is very important to us and adjustments can be made for free if they are still feeling discomfort within 6 months of receiving the orthotic. Orthotics with normal wear-and-tear can be refurbished for a fee at any time, including any adjustments or changes and shipping.
Want to know more about what sets Forward Motion Medical apart from other custom orthotics labs? Check out our information page or schedule a free consultation with one of our account specialists.