The start-up XFeet, based in Prades-le-Lez, near Montpellier, and incubated in the Business & Innovation Center (BIC), was launched in 2019 on the orthopedic insoles market. This mechanical correction device is intended to adjust the support of the sole of the foot to compensate for deficiency or relieve pain.
Two HP Jet Fusion printers
To reduce costs and speed up production, this start-up opted for additive manufacturing with two HP Jet Fusion 5210 printers.”We needed a tool capable of mass production with material quality and production stability.Nicolas Saint-Lô, CEO of XFeet and podiatrist by training, told The digital factory†
The machines feature HP’s multi-jet fusion (MJF) technology. It works like this: during printing, a binder is deposited on the material layer where the particles have to be fused. Then a second special liquid agent is applied to mix and create the details. Finally, the material layer is heated to allow the binders and material to react to make the part.
To print its pairs of soles, XFeet chose to use PA11 powder of organic origin, developed by Arkema. “70% of the powders used to make the soles are recycled. The few losses are recycled by recovery organizations“, says Nicolas Saint-Lô, for whom ecodesign is a very important value.
A 3D scanner to capture fingerprints
In practice, it is podiatrists who scan the impressions of patients who need insoles with a 3D scanner, also designed by XFeet, whose case itself is 3D printed. †Our scanner is innovative because it requires a large number of fingerprintsgives the CEO details. Indeed, the only way to understand the effect of a sole on a foot is to have the diagnosis of the deformation of the foot during the load.“These prints make it possible to model the soles in a web application, the data is then forwarded to the company that takes care of the printing. Four days later, the patients receive their package.
Why not offer a service entirely remotely, for example via teleconsultation? “It’s not in our valuesthe podiatrist replies. We wanted to develop an ethical, therapeutic, eco-responsible care that should respond to a diagnosis through a consultation†
200 pairs printed every day
XFeet now prints 200 pairs of soles per day, or nearly 120 soles every 10 hours. It’s the therapeutic part that prints that the company adds”a clean sole“adjustable according to the patient’s activity. The pair is sold to the podiatrist for 30 euros, ie “social security reimbursement price‘ says the director.
Through its activity, XFeet collects a lot of information: “objective data from the scanner and subjective data from the patient and the podiatrist“A treasure coveted by the hospitals the nugget works with and the equipment manufacturers to have.”the possibility to study this data for the realization of their shoes†
On the way to Spain with a future production line
†We are growing very fast” confides Nicolas Saint-Lô. The purchase of a new printer is necessary as soon as 100-150 new users arrive. Currently, production is located in Prades-le-Lez and then sent to where the needs are. XFeet wants now conquer the Spanish market, the country in which it wants to start producing”before the end of the year†
XFeet achieved a turnover of one million euros in 2021. A fundraiser is in preparation. It should be ready this summer, says the CEO.