WIIVV 3D Printing – Turning Dreams into Reality
3D printing, the dream
The concept of 3D printing has existed for decades. However, it wasn’t 3D dipped below $10,000 in cost, and became a user-friendly technology, that it really came to the attention of the general public.
By the mid-2000s, the focus of 3D printing had shifted towards the democratization of manufacturing. Suddenly the idea of mass customization became commercially viable, opening up a realm of new possibilities for use of 3D printing technology. 3D printing was now considered to be the future of at-home printing, with the ability to create anything and everything imaginable. By simply scanning an item or creating a 3D design file and sending it to the 3D printer, consumers had the power to create in their own hands.
Not only would this technology be useful for creating instant prototypes for businesses, but it would allow the general consumer to create toys for their kids, items for their house, and gadgets for themselves. While this was an exciting prospect for many, the reality of 3D printing did not exactly align with this vision. As the technology has improved, and the future of 3D printing became clearer, consumer mindset has shifted to consider personal 3D printers more of an unnecessary expense rather than a must-have item.
3D printing, the reality
The accessibility of 3D printing did, however, open the doors of opportunity for a lesser considered demographic in the business realm. While at-home, customizable 3D printing was not of great appeal, the concept of creating a business around mass customization for personalized products had become a burgeoning success. General consumers may not want to produce their own products at home, but they certainly still saw the appeal in scientifically tailored, personalized consumption.
Wiivv Wearables Inc., a Canadian startup at the forefront of the mass customization movement, has seen this first hand. Instead of end-to-end manufacturing, Wiivv envisions 3D printing as the potential to produce personalized parts that construct a highly customized finished consumer product.
Wiivv is a bionics company that creates custom, 3D printed gear using body-perfect capture technology, accessible by everyone from a smartphone. Working with biomechanical experts in sports medicine, orthotics and pedorthics, Wiivv has designed a proprietary product customization engine that begins with digital capture and ends with manufacturing of a biomechanically enhanced 3D print-ready file in seconds, enabling it to create custom fitted gear for anyone, anywhere on the body.
Using the Wiivv app from any smartphone, consumers follow the step-by-step video tutorial to capture 5 images of their feet from different angles. These images are then turned into a 3D model in Wiivv’s system and that file is transmitted to its 3D printing facility in San Diego, California. The entire process from image capturing to 3D printing takes mere seconds, allowing Wiivv to create and send personalized insoles to its customers within two weeks. The results are a true testament to the progress of 3D printing, Wiivv’s insoles are 100% customized. No templates are used. All insoles are created unique for each individual user. This custom arch support and sizing, among other things, can provide great fit, comfort and improved biomechanics.
Download: WIIVV App for iOs
WIIVV – Learning the ropes
The idea for Wiivv’s BASE insoles came after Wiivv’s Co-Founder had gone through a painstaking experience in getting custom orthotics made by a practitioner using traditional methods. After speaking to friends and family, the issue appeared widespread. There was opportunity to fill the gap between over-the-counter insoles and those provided by a practitioner. The team quickly coupled their 3D printing expertise with a market that has proven demand for custom goods.
Wiivv knew it was creating an incredible product, marrying the ability to customize with the power to mass produce, but creating a successful product means ensuring the product is perfect before releasing it to the public. That’s why the Wiivv team completed 12 months of R&D, with 72 design iterations and feedback and testing performed by 100 people who spend full days on their feet to ensure the product was market ready before launching on Kickstarter.
The team strategized early on that that they would build their product for power-users first. Wiivv refers to this market as “industrial athletes”. These are local community heroes, like nurses, search and rescue workers, fire-force workers, and others, who spent many months getting measured and monitored so that the comfort product would provide real benefits over prolonged periods of heavy use. If the Wiivv team could create a product that satisfied the needs of their heaviest users, then they knew they had created something truly unique.
Wiivv recognized that garnering community support for their product was only half the battle. In order to launch a successful consumer-facing 3D printed product, the company would need significant support from knowledgeable and reputable investors. Before launching on Kickstarter, Wiivv garnered support for their seed round from industry leaders in 3D printing and wearable technologies, individuals from companies including Apple®, EA®, HP®, Google®, Nike® and 3D Systems®.
3D printing on Kickstarter
Wiivv Wearables Inc. has been receiving significant attention for the work that it is doing. In the lead up to its first ever Kickstarter campaign, the company participated in the TechCrunch Hardware Battlefield competition at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, ultimately securing runner up for their innovative product. Just a few weeks prior to their CES TechCrunch recognition, co-founders Shamil Hargovan and Louis-Victor Jadavji were recognized in a recent Forbes’ 30 Under 30 feature in the manufacturing and industry category.
The Wiivv team’s first inclination was to target specific markets first, namely, the US and Canada through their Kickstarter outreach. However, with a significant amount of requests to expand into other regions with their campaign, Wiivv extended its product offerings to the UK, Australia, and New Zealand. Expanding its reach to an extra few regions within days of their campaign close was a logistical challenge, but the willing supporters made a compelling case that improper footwear truly is a global problem. But the real reason for their success? Wiivv represents a significant demand in the 3D printing landscape. Having achieved its $50,000 Kickstarter goal within the first two days of the campaign, Wiivv went on to secure 470% of its initial funding goal, breaking the record as the most funded 3D printed good in Kickstarter history. In addition to breaking this record in the 3D printing landscape, Wiivv was also the most funded insole and third most funded product in the footwear category.
Learning from traditional manufacturing
Wiivv is setting an example of the opportunities available to 3D printing companies looking to enter the market. By adapting established practices from traditional manufacturing models into its own, Wiivv has executed successful campaigns aligned to its brand and core values. Traditional manufacturing is so long established that it provides years of case studies available to those entering the 3D printing industry. Everything from innovations and ability to increase product lines to successful growth strategies and business models can be taken from a traditional manufacturing model and adapted to 3D printing.
The impetus for Wiivv was entirely inspired by helping people. The team believes that they can markedly improve the lives of many by helping to maximize comfort, promote alignment and lessen foot fatigue – and they want to spread that as wide as they can. This is why Wiivv implemented an altruistic angle into their Kickstarter campaign. The altruistic model has been adopted by global brands such as TOMS, Pepsi, and JoinRED, who have successfully driven campaigns that merge community, consciousness, and influence consumer lifestyles.
Taking a cue from one of its strategic investors – Liz Heller, the social entrepreneur and pioneer behind the TOMS Shoes One for One initiative – Wiivv launched its first altruistic initiative during its Kickstarter campaign, with a “buy two, give one” promotion of its custom, 3D printed insoles, to benefit the undervalued demographic of everyday athletes that Wiivv has named the “industrial athlete”. This includes nurses, servers, firefighters, mail carriers, and anyone who feels the pressure of working on their feet. Research shows that the average person takes 2,000 steps per day. Comparatively, nurses take around 7,888 steps during an average 8-hour shift and servers take an average of 10,332 in a 6-hour shift, which equates to 1,722 steps per hour.
The program was created to allow Wiivv’s earliest adopters to directly gift a pair of the insoles to someone they know who deserves a little more comfort in their long days. They added to this with a Facebook program that allowed anyone to tag a friend, whom Wiivv would then consider to gift directly. Wiivv’s team saw astounding success. From those who volunteer as rescuers in the Rocky Mountains, to cooks with severe misalignment that constantly has sore knees, their Karma initiative was able to reach an entirely new market of users, desperate for customized gear.
Wiivv’s ultimate vision is to solve the problem of bodily discomfort and misalignment with the use of its customized 3D printed gear. This is why its first altruistic model focused on showing recognition and appreciation for the industrial athletes that spend the most time on their feet in a day. While the buy-two-give-one campaign, aptly named the “Karma Program” was designed to support these industrial athletes, the custom-made insoles are ultimately designed to help the eight in ten people that suffer from foot fatigue by targeting the top three issues in foot support: maximizing comfort, promoting alignment, and lessening fatigue.
Mirroring the altruistic model from previously successful traditional manufacturing models allowed Wiivv to open the market for 3D printing with a campaign that reflects its own core values.
Moving into the future
Wiivv Wearables has begun fulfilling the orders of its first backers. In the meantime, customers are encouraged to visit the Wiivv Indiegogo page to purchase a pair of insoles for themselves. Having exceeded the expectations set forth for its Kickstarter campaign, and successfully fulfilling the insole product line, Wiivv is shifting its focus to create the next great 3D printed product in the very near future.
The future of customized manufacturing using 3D printing technology is limitless, and Wiivv Wearables is forging the path for what this future will look like.