The Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre (AMGC) is supporting a collaborative project led by iOrthotics, a Queensland-based company specialising in design and manufacture of custom-made orthotic devices.
iOrthotics is a fast-growing maker of custom orthotic shoe inserts that correct biomechanical issues. The podiatry and orthotic business is pioneering the next wave of 3D printing technologies with ambitious plans to expand its reach into the United States, UK and Canada.
iOrthotics currently supplies to 75 clinics across Australia and has new opportunities in several international orthotic laboratories. Seizing this potential for increased export growth and revenue requires digitising its operations and scaling up production.
AMGC, a Commonwealth supported initiative, has announced it will provide $195,250 in co-funding to support iOrthetics’ expansion into global markets with the use of HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing technology.
“On each occasion, I like to reinforce the message that Australian manufacturers must compete on value and not on cost; and we are excited to be supporting iOrthotics, a manufacturer who is doing just that,” said Dr Jens Goennemann, managing director of AMGC.
“iOrthotics is leveraging a network of expertise including its supply chain and University of Queensland to provide superior medical devices, and by building on its technical leadership and taking that globally,” he said.
The collaborative project uses iOrthotics’ relationship with machine provider HP, as well as local reseller Evok3D, which is sharing technical support. University of Queensland will provide invaluable material science, testing and validation expertise in developing iOrthotics’ superior new products and processes.
“We do need help to facilitate what we are doing, or we simply cannot afford the investment to innovate,” Dean Hartley, iOrthotics general manager said.
“It is the network and industry knowledge AMGC is able to provide which can help a business such as ours that is in its growth and early commercialisation stage.”
Hartley adds that digitising operations, including the entry system for clients, tracking jobs via barcoding, and optimising orthotic design for manufacture, is essential to scale internationally.
iOrthotics moved to 3D printing in 2015, using fused deposition modelling (FDM) and cutting 1.4 kilograms of waste for each pair of orthotics made compared to older milling methods. A bank of 20 printers enabled 3,300 pairs of orthotics annually to be produced. With R&D and their new HP printer purchased last year, iOrthotics can produce 24,000 pairs annually requiring less post-processing and reducing over 30 tonnes of plastic landfill waste.