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Access Type

Open Access

Document Type


Degree Program

Mechanical Engineering

Degree Type

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (M.S.M.E.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

Month Degree Awarded



biomechanics, Custom foot orthotics, finite element analysis, simulation, modeling


This thesis presents an engineering approach to the modeling and analysis of custom foot orthotics. Although orthotics are widely used and accepted as devices for the prevention of and recovery from injuries, the design process continues to be based on empirical means. There have been many clinical studies investigating the various effects that the orthotics can have on the kinematics and kinetics of human locomotion. The results from these studies are not always consistent, primarily due to subject variability and experimental nature of the design. Alternatively, a better understanding of the therapeutic effects of custom foot orthotics, as well as designing for optimal performance, can be achieved through simulation-based engineering modeling and analysis studies. Such an approach will pave the way to clarify some of the ambiguous findings found in the clinical studies-based literature. Towards this goal, this research presents a methodical process for the replication of the orthotics’ complex three-dimensional geometry and for the construction of finite element analysis models using estimated nonlinear material properties.

As part of this research, laser scanning techniques are used to capture the objects’ details and geometry through generation of point cloud surface images by taking multiple scans from all angles. Material testing and Mooney-Rivlin equations were used to construct the hyperelastic nonlinear material properties. Using the mid-stance phase of gait for loading conditions, the ANSYS finite element package was utilized to run analyses on three different load classifications and the corresponding maximum stresses and deflection results were generated.

The results indicate that the simulated models can augment and validate the use of empirical tables for designing custom foot orthotics. They can also provide the basis for the optimal design thicknesses of custom foot orthotics based on an end-users’ weight and activities. From a practical perspective, they can also be useful in further exploring different orthotics, loading conditions, material properties, as well as the effectiveness of orthotics for different foot and lower extremity deformities.


First Advisor

Sundar Krishnamurty