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Environmentally Friendly Orthotics

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Mark Egan, Aug 26, 2011.

  1. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Active Member

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    Hi All,

    Is there such a thing?

  2. Craig Payne

    Craig Payne Moderator

    One of the well known pre-fab brands was/is working on an environmentally friendly foot orthotic. It was/is based on a bamboo derived material as compared to the traditional EVA/PU materials
  3. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Active Member

    Thanks Craig is there someway I can find out more about the company ?

    What about the 3d printing ? someone I think simon spooner mentioned during a discussion on milling.

  4. You can print with polylactic acid which is the material promoted by the Reprap project.

    Plant based "plastics" have potential http://www.theengineer.co.uk/news/mitsubishi-makes-bamboo-plastic/293684.article . I have also suggested to a number of people that it should be possible to use certain wood based materials for direct milling too.

    I was also interested in the use of palm leaves being steam formed to make disposable tableware. http://www.thewholeleafco.com/page/1/compostable_palm_leaf_tableware/
  5. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Active Member

    Thanks Simon for the links, interesting.

    I note the plant based plastics article is from 2007 and the technology has been around since 2004. Obviously no orthotics company has looked into ways to reduce dare I say it "their footprint on the earth"

    I have been thinking about this for awhile and after hearing the following podcast today it got me trying to find out if it could be possible


    Richard's conversation with the late Ray Anderson, the American industrialist described by Time magazine as 'an environmental hero'.
    Ray Anderson's company was a billion dollar plus a year enterprise when in the 1990s he had an epiphany.
    He shocked his workforce by announcing their new goal - to shrink the company's carbon footprint to zero.
    Ray's company Interface was - and is - the largest manufacturer of carpet tiles in the world, and a zero carbon footprint seemed almost laughable to many.
    But as the company changed forever, it became more profitable than it had ever been.
    Ray Anderson spoke to Richard in 2008.
    Ray died earlier this month from cancer, and a memorial is being held for him in the US on Monday 29 August.

  6. Something I've been interested in for some time. If I had the funding resources, I'd be doing it, yet I'm just a poor old shamop.

  7. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    who cares you will be encouraging domys on a push bike next .make amillion out of eco orthotics then buy a range rover v8 petrol.
  8. efuller

    efuller MVP

    It's obvious that someone cares, otherwise there would not be this many posters on this thread. Fish, the question for you is why do you care so much to bother ask who cares on this thread and another enviromentally slanted thread?

  9. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    all 4 posters i still maitain its aduller than dishwater question
  10. Ian Drakard

    Ian Drakard Active Member

    Then butt out this thread and leave it to people who have an interest
  11. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    still dull
  12. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    so u think in an asshole still dull im a big boy i can take it
  13. I thought you would have seen the humor in it and enjoyed the lyrics
  14. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    mike ill check out the lyrics at home i did not want dennis leary on at work as his language is a bit naughty
  15. I'm willing to hug a tree as much as the next communist. But I would question whether the sort of amounts of plastics which go into making orthoses constitute a particularly big environmental risk. Compared to, say, disposable instruments, packaging, plaster of paris etc. Individually, we probably throw away an orthotics worth of plastic by weight a couple of times a week in packaging alone.

    And I would question how "friendly" the bamboo ones really are. By the time they've been manufactured, picked, packed, shipped etc.

    Is it really more than a gimmick?
  16. Rob, from small acorns....

    For me its more about finding viable alternatives for use in developing countries where the usual suspects might not be easilly available.

    It is possible to reduce the breakdown time of your EVA too, which is exactly what Brooks did with their biomogo midsoles.

    I do also recall an orthosis which my old boss had knocking around in the lab which was manufactured from a doped cellulose based material.... one of the historians might be able to elaborate.
  17. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    well put o enlightened one [refering to rob] ime having the same beef on another thread with our us cousins they talk about recyclable running shoes but drive 6 litre pick ups and use a 1/4 of the worlds energy so what difference will abit of eco plastic in an orthosis make when my us neighbour has an 8 litre viper does 4 mpg and his run around is a 6.3 litre amg merc not diesel but petrol.
    the only 5 series bmw for sale is a5 litre petrol model guess what it does not do 50 miles to the gallon. my point after my moan is what is the point of overly worrying about the british carbon footprint its so small by comparison. just another little gem when autumn comes we will all heat up our olympic sized outdoor pools with propane not me though im the mad brit who can swim in water less than 80 deg farenhite even been known to swim at less than 60 degrees we are the only couple in our sub division that have never had the aircon on heat we use a thing called a fleece a modern jumper it seems to work quite well
  18. Now THAT is a noble goal.

    But lets call it what it is.
  19. And what would you call it?
  20. Finding viable alternatives for use in developing countries where the usual suspects might not be easilly available.
  21. efuller

    efuller MVP

    And I thought it was only the residents of the U.S. who would think that everyone in a country acts the same way. You know a significant number of U.S. residents have Prius envy.

  22. Phil Rees

    Phil Rees Active Member

    Hi Mark
    I was asked to investigate the use of bio-composites and bio-polymers by my previous employer, we also looked at thermal deposition printing methods that Simon has mentioned. The problem at the moment with 3D printing is time and source material. For the production of a functioning orthosis made in either ABS or MDPE the print run time was around 6 hours per single orthosis,(A single prototype shoe sole took 19 hours). PLA's (starch based Poly Lactic Acid polymers) I think, may well offer an atracctive alternative in the future , but at the moment their format is limited to films used in the food packaging industry or granules for injection moulding and follow on extrusion. One of the major issues in producing PLA's over 1.5mm thickness is controlling the thermal flow of the material during the extrusion process. The manufacturers of these materials are reluctant to invest in their development because in their view the entire world production of foot orthoses is not a big enough market.
    Using Long chain hydro carbons the way we do at the moment is in my opinion unsustainable
  23. I wonder, of the total "environmental impact" of getting a pair of orthoses from factory to foot, what are the various elements? There is the actual material of course, but then there is also the power to run the machine, the waste, the size of machine itself, the packaging, the transit from factory to consumer...

    The waste will always be an issue for direct milling (cost wise if nothing else). 3d printing will probably solve that problem one day, in the meanwhile, I wonder if there is some way to take a thin piece of plastic (less waste) and somehow shape that to a positive mould so minimal amounts actually need to be trimmed. If this was done at point of patient contact one could even reduce the transit carbon footprint! ;)

    Joking aside, I wonder if the traditional method has less of an environmental impact than the process of manufacturing something from bamboo in a factory overseas, packing it, shipping it, etc etc.

  24. You are absolutely right, Robert. The material manufacturing process is only one element in the chain. Three dimensional printing using plant derived plastics could potentially circumvent the majority of these. I don't know if a printer like the Reprap could be run using solar/ wind power, I presume it could given a large enough solar panel/ wind turbine. Just need to get the speed of these things up. As Phil noted, the foot orthoses I had printed three or four years ago, took about 5 hours to grow. I have absolutely no doubt that printing times will be reduced in the near future. I also have absolutely no doubt that 3D printing is the future of foot orthoses manufacturing. Even with 3D printing there is some waste as support materials have to be used and then removed.

    Even using the "traditional method" the plastics have to be manufactured and shipped to the distributor, then to the client. There is still waste (I got bags of it which I seperate and have collected for recycling). And it still runs up an elctricity bill.
  25. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    mr fuller u say a significant no of us residents have a prius envy not as many as have got a ford f150. its ashame florida residents dont have washing lines but they do have electric tumble dryers in the utility rooms which run constantly washing lines are forbiden in upmarket communities as having your smalls on display is not considered cricket. finally us citisens do use 1/4 of all the energy in the world so its a statistic its hard to get past. its not a dig at the us which is my favourite place in the world its just when ime there these are the things i see. we are seeing more eco cars on the road minis toyotas ford focus etc but its very slow to change.
  26. efuller

    efuller MVP


    When you first called this discussion boring I was guessing that you were a global warming denier. I'm still not sure what you think. But, if you do think global warming is a problem, then why are you belittling someone for trying to come up with a solution? Don't you think change will be slower when people are belittled for trying to find solutions to problems?

  27. I'm Agnostic on Global warming. I really honestly don't know. But on the basis of Pascals wager I'd say one almost has to work on a worst case scenario.


    I think one of the biggest things preventing us from finding solutions to problems is when we focus our energy on the wrong things! Its misplaced energy, rather than apathy, which does the damage IMO.

    Fishpods example, If I've understood the grammar correctly, is a good one. There is no benefit in recycling ones sandels if one also drives an unneccessarily huge car or uses a tumble drier every day because they cannot be bothered to hang washing on the line.

    On a lighter note, here is a heartwarming and hilarious story of what happened when sting wandered all unsuspecting into the Paxman thunderdome on the topic of environmentalism.

    From 7:15 onward

    One of the top 5 Paxman moments ever in my view.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  28. Its Off topic, but this is another of his top 10 at least

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2016
  29. Tylermcc

    Tylermcc Member

    The Spenco Polysorb Earthbound Insole is marketed as an environmentally sustainable insole. It is made of 55% recycled materials and renewable materials. It is an insole we sell at our internet retail store and is popular in the camping, hiking, and envirormentally conscious consumer as a replacement to the Spenco Total Support Insole.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 1, 2011
  30. joejared

    joejared Active Member

    Hempthotics? :)
  31. Mark Egan

    Mark Egan Active Member

    Thanks to all who had placed a comment about this topic. I was not expecting too much in the way of a response but was surprised with what was submitted.

    As always I appreciate the thoughts, experiences and lateral thinking of my peers.

  32. fishpod

    fishpod Well-Known Member

    hi eric i am not a global warming denier . roberts post put my argument more eloquently. i am belitteling saving the planet via improved orthotic production because in the big picture it makes absoluteley no sense . if we made no more orthotics ever. It would have no impact as the chinese are building 2 power stations per week. so if this is the best solution you can immediatley think of its god help the planet. wish i could be more positive. ps i am in the states for a month i will count the number of priuses i see bet u it wont be many fancy a wager.
  33. efuller

    efuller MVP

    Depends on which part of the country. On my block in Berkeley there are more priuses than any other type of car. With gas at $4 a gallon the free market types might start getting out of their SUV's. It will take time.

  34. CraigT

    CraigT Well-Known Member

    Yep- there are lots of small cars in Europe, and fuel economy is a big selling point...
    I will convert into USD to give a true (approx) comparison-
    Germany- USD2 per litre
    Australia- USD1.4 per litre
    US- USD 1 per litre
    Qatar- USD 0.27 per litre :D
    ...and guess what the European Doctors that I work with all drive? Yep- big American SUVs
  35. Sweden 2.12 USD per L

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