Orthotics Laboratory – How Custom Orthotics Are Made

You may have heard of an orthotics laboratory and wondered what is involved. How are orthotics made and what equipment is used?

Before we delve into that, let’s take a brief look at what orthotics are and what they’re used for.

What are orthotics?

Custom orthotics are orthotics that are prescribed by a podiatrist and made in an orthotics laboratory from a 3D impression of your foot. They are custom-made for your feet and designed to support, improve, align your foot posture or treat whatever foot condition you are suffering from.

Many of the injuries and foot conditions we see at Cartwright Podiatry are due to poor or abnormal biomechanics which, in turn, can significantly impact the legs, feet, pelvis and spine.

Plastics and high-density foams are typically used to correct biomechanics and while initially, they appear extremely rigid, in time they become fairly comfortable.

Not only do orthotics alleviate pain but they can also prevent existing foot conditions from getting any worse.

So, now you know what orthotics are, let’s look at how they’re made in an orthotics laboratory.

How are custom orthotics made?

To get custom orthotics, a person requires a prescription. This contains all the necessary information for an orthotics laboratory to manufacture your bespoke orthotics.

What’s the procedure?

Your consultation will start with a biomechanical assessment. This is carried out by a podiatrist who will ask you how and when your symptoms began.

After that, a thorough examination will be performed which often involves a visual gait assessment. During this exam, detailed measurements of your feet will be recorded, and your shoes will also be examined. You’ll also be asked how active you are.

In some cases, the next step is to create a cast of your foot. This is often done with plaster by placing sheets of wet plaster over of your feet while you sit or lay down. Once this has set, it is removed from your feet and stored overnight before being sent to a specialist orthotics laboratory the next day, along with a prescription giving the details of the dimensions, materials, and accessories to be used.

Making your custom orthotics

At the laboratory, your prescription will be reviewed, and the manufacturing process will begin. The cast is pressed against a sheet of graphite material or plastic under extreme heat. Then a stable comfortable material is used to create a cover that is secured to the heel and arch structure of the biomechanical device.


Graphite or polypropylene is used to create a rigid yet flexible foundation. Cushioning materials made from silicone, neoprene, or vinyl acetate are then added.

Once the orthotic(s) have been completed, they will be despatched from the orthotics laboratory and sent back to the podiatrist to be fitted into the patient’s footwear.

That’s one way of making custom orthotics but they can also be manufactured using other methods including 3D laser scans.

Skeletal print higlhlighted through persons legs walking on Treadmill

3D laser scans – The procedure

Advances in technologies now enable podiatrists to create a prescription much faster using a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool that digitally assesses a patient’s biomechanics. These measurements provide a precise explanation of the biomechanics and assist with the design of the orthotics. An advanced 3D scanner of the patient’s foot eliminates the need for casting and foaming the patient’s feet for orthotics.

The video below illustrates the various ways of obtaining a prescription for custom orthotics and shows the manufacturing process.


Types of custom orthotics

Not only do custom orthotics differ in the materials they are made from, but also in the shape. Depending on your foot condition, your activity, and what sort of footwear you want to put them in, the prescription will change.

Options include:

Full-length orthotic

¾ length orthotic

Carbon orthotic

Slim orthotic

Children’s orthotics

Custom footbeds for skiing

Custom orthotics cost more than the orthotics you can buy over the counter. However, having orthotics made just for you is priceless.

You’ll be able to walk and exercise free from pain and live your life to the full.

Not everyone is suited to orthotics therapy, but we can discuss your best treatments during a consultation. If you’re suffering from lower limb pain and discomfort then come and speak with our experienced podiatrists at Cartwright Podiatry. Call us today on 02 840 6850 or book online

We care about your lower limb health.

Book online or get in touch
with us today

We care about your lower limb health.

Book online or get in touch with us today