Start-up uses 3D printer to create ski boot insole

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A NEW student start-up company in Edinburgh is poised to enter the snow sports industry by developing revolutionary fully customised insoles for ski boots using the latest 3D printing technology.

ALPrint is a model of how Edinburgh’s tech start-up scene is maturing within the city’s universities with students from the Universities of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt to teaming up to build a business with the talent to bring the new technology to market.

A start-up firm made up of Edinburgh students have used 3D printer technology to create custom insoles for ski boots. Picture: AP

A start-up firm made up of Edinburgh students have used 3D printer technology to create custom insoles for ski boots. Picture: AP

Chris Balmer, a mechanical engineer at Heriot-Watt University and one of ALPrint’s founders, said: “We have benefitted hugely from having such a developed support network from both universities. The University of Edinburgh is also a great scene for competitions and entrepreneurial experience lectures and events, such as the 3 Day Startup event hosted by LAUNCH.ed. We have been supported at every step and greatly appreciate the support we have been given so far.”

The team from Edinburgh University comprises of Gavin Balmer, an electrical and electronic engineer working on developing both the scanner and printer; Rowan Border, a computer scientist with expertise in programming and machine learning, has been developing the software for the scanner and printer; and Alec Edgecliffe-Johnson is working on marketing and business development.

From Heriot-Watt University, Chris leads the development of the specialist material that is used in the ALPrint insoles alongside Ross Flavell, also a mechanical engineer, who has been leading the bio-mechanics aspect of product development, and Arran Ingram, who is working on marketing and developing the business.

ALPrint aims to provide skiers with custom 3D printed insoles, branded as “MPrints”, which mirror the contours of their feet and address the discomfort they experience when their skiboots do not fit correctly.

The company has recently been shortlisted for the Shell Livewire competition. If they are successful they could win £1,000 in the monthly competition and have a chance to compete for £10,000 in the annual competition.


Student entrepreneurs at the University of Edinburgh receive dedicated information, advice and mentoring support through LAUNCH.ed, an award-winning initiative established by Edinburgh Research and Innovation (ERI), the University’s commercialisation arm. ERI delivers a comprehensive range of services to support entrepreneurial staff and students in establishing new enterprises that have the potential to become major players in their sectors as they grow and employ more staff. This high level of support has helped University of Edinburgh staff and students set up 171 new businesses in the past five years.

• For more information on ALPrint, visit