CAD, CAM CAE for Orthopaedic footwear

Today, orthopaedic footwear is, for the most part, based on empirical evidence. Its quality and efficiency are strictly determined by the knowledge and experience of the orthopaedic technician. Orthopaedic footwear is designed to relieve pain and provide support to the feet, ankles, or legs.

Considerable advances in computer technology, both in the industrial and medical fields make it possible to directly assess the quality and efficiency of orthopaedic footwear.

Computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) was introduced in the shoe industry in the 1970s and focused on designing and grading upper patterns to manufacture cutting dies, shoe lasts, and sole moulds [1]. Initially, it was used primarily for two-dimensional (2D) pattern grading of the shoe upper. Traditional CAD/CAM systems used in the footwear industry today have evolved to include a more extensive range of functions, such as 3D footwear and decoration design, sole designs and production, and shoe last manufacturing and machine control.

CAD/CAM automates routine procedures, increases speed, improves consistency, and enables design variations. CAD/CAM is used effectively in all aspects of the footwear industry as data generated at the design stage can be sent from anywhere in the world to factories for production planning and manufacturing.

The shoe upper CAD/CAM system has focused on 2D pattern generation from shoe designs; sizing and grading of upper patterns; 2D texture and logos design and engraving; optimization methods to reduce waste by properly aligning 2D patterns; machining code for cutting machines (knife or lase); and laser engraving. Previously, 2D CAD was used for upper design while 3D CAD was used for sole and shoe-last design and manufacturing, but now even 3D CAD is used for upper design.

Nowadays, with knitting technology, the design and production cycle can be reduced, the quality and variations in the lasts have been improved. In addition, design software can be used to generate shoe last from existing shoe lasts after digitization or scanning. Using shoe-last design and manufacturing CAD-CAM software, complex shoe lasts can be accurate design; design can be easily modified based on many geometric modeling tools; the design changes can be visualized in real-time; final design can be machined using shoe last CNC machine.

Footwear manufacturing will probably evolve into two separate directions based on footwear type: traditional footwear [2] and 3D printed footwear [3]. New technology in traditional footwear manufacturing will strengthen the design (CAD), manufacturing (CAM), and engineering (CAE) components by including easy-to-use and innovative functions. CAD systems will have standalone and web-based systems for quick design, design changes, and design modifications. Shoe-last-based footwear design using parametric or point-based geometric modeling enables footwear design modifications and sizing more quickly and accurately. The shoe-upper design will improve further by knitting technology to have upper designs with more functions (moisture management, motion control, and functional requirement for sports). The sole design will focus both on traditional techniques of making sole via moulding and 3D printing technologies. Web-based footwear customization and personalization will become familiar as it will enable individual users to create their designs using the web or mobile interfaces.

The main advantages of custom manufacturing are the ability to provide the customer with products with the exact specifications required and therefore reduce the risks of entire stocks of finished products getting older and out of fashion. In addition, software manufacturers create integrated programs for companies producing orthopedic footwear, to not only help in the efficient management of a product’s life-cycle, from idea, design, and production to service and recycling.

Programs can accomplish:

– Computer-Aided Design (CAD);
Computer-aided design (CAD) makes it possible to create models defined by geometrical parameters. These models typically appear on a computer monitor as a three-dimensional representation of a part, or a system of parts, which can be readily altered by changing relevant parameters. Thus, CAD systems enable designers to view objects under a wide variety of representations and to test these objects by simulating real-world conditions [4].

– Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM);
Computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) uses geometrical design data to control automated machinery. CAM systems are associated with computer numerical control (CNC) or direct numerical control (DNC) systems. These systems differ from older forms of numerical control (NC) in that geometrical data are encoded mechanically. Since both CAD and CAM use computer-based methods for encoding geometrical data, the design and manufacture processes can be highly integrated. Therefore, computer-aided design and manufacturing systems are commonly referred to as CAD/CAM [4].

– Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE);
Computer-Aided Engineering (CAE) refers to software to simulate the effects of different conditions on the design of a product or structure using simulated loads and constraints. CAE tools are often used to analyze and optimize the designs created within CAD software. These tools include simulation, validation, and optimization of products, processes, and manufacturing tools.



[1] G. Rui și z. Ma, „The direction of footwear computer-aided design in Chin,” 2010 IEEE 11th International Conference on Computer-Aided Industrial Design & Conceptual Design, nr. 1, pp. 222-225, 2010.
[2] A. Luximon, Handbook of footwear design and manufacture 2013, first ed. Elsevier, 2013.
[3] S. B. Ghodsi, „Atossa 3D Printed Footwear 3D printed Footwear,” 2015. [Interactiv]. Available: [Accesat 29 09 2021].
[4] „Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM),” Inc., 06 02 2020. [Interactiv]. Available:

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