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As we saw with the Virus Collection 3D printing allows designers to create clothes. But its utility in the fashion tech doesn’t end here because it’s also possible to create shoes with astonishing designs.
For example, Zoe Jia-Yu Dai, a designer based in Taiwan and specialised in footwear, created “Breaking the 3D Mould”, a shoes collection with 3D printed parts. This technology allows designers to go further with the design structures. It is a way to change the manufacturing process. It’s easier to create organic structures with additive manufacturing, than with a traditional process.
It is obviously a good way to create prototypes to work on the design of any shoe. Some designers only focus on the design of the shoes. Melissa’s shoes are a great example of the possibilities offered by the 3D printing technology when it comes to design. Check out our blogpost about Melissa’s footwear experiments.
Silvia Fado, a spanish footwear designer, uses 3D printing and laser cutting to do rapid prototyping. Inspired by engineering and architecture, Silvia Fado focusses on style but not only since she’s also interested in the movement of the body, the wearability of the shoes, and the comfort elements that are part of the shoes. She works on the aesthetic and on the functional value of footwear.
Like in other sectors, 3D printing can be used to develop new manufacturing processes. It can give more possibilities and opportunities to any company. For example: Feetz. It is an American startup run by Lucy Beard. They make custom shoes, easy to wear and with a nice style. On top of that, Feetz is also committed to protect the environment.
They developed their own 3D printer, using a Fused Filament Fabrication technique, and their own 3D printing material: a patented polymer. They wanted to rethink the whole manufacturing process, in order to make it more sustainable. Feetz uses recycled and recyclable materials, no water and reduced by 60% their carbon footprint. Moreover there is no material waste because with 3D printing you only use the quantity that you need.
Their use of 3D printing in their manufacturing process shows that it is possible to change the way the shoes industry affects the environment.
New high-performance materials are now available on the market and particularly adapted to the creation of shoe parts, such as midsoles.
The perfect example for that is TPU. Indeed, objects printed with Thermoplastic Polyurethane are offering advanced properties, which is perfect to get durable, strong, and flexible parts. With Sculpteo’s online 3D printing service, you will have the choice between two different TPU options for the creation of shoes or midsoles: Ultrasint® TPU 88A and Ultrasint® TPU01 a perfect 3D printing material choice if you need to produce parts requiring shock absorption, high elasticity, and energy return. For flexible lattices and complex parts, this TPU material is ideal.
It’s easy to get a pair of 3D printed shoes made with a 3D printing technology. For instance, Feetz collaborated with the designer Seth Aaron to launch a shoe line together, inspired by a Japanese, 1960s mid-century modern look. You can buy those shoes on their website.
But you can also get custom made shoes, as they are offering different models from slides and sneakers for men and women, to wedges with a lattice design. To get your 3D printed shoes, you have to download their app to 3D scan your feet in order to get a 3D model. Then, you just have to choose the shoes among the different models that Feetz offers. They will make you a ready-to-wear pair of shoes based on the 3D model of your feet.
Continuum Fashion also launched ready-to-wear pairs of shoes, created thanks to 3D printing. With Additive Manufacturing, it is possible to give life to organic forms. The project shows that 3D printing shoes actually make sense to create ready-to-wear. Moreover, you can produce them faster than with traditional manufacturing.
3D printed footwear can easily be integrated to your daily life, for example Phits, with their 3D printed insoles, are a good example. Some projects are really accessible to anybody, and could be developed more widely. Personalized pairs of shoes are now accessible to everybody and mass customisation will gain ground in the upcoming years.
Indeed, 3D printing is a great way to get shoes perfectly adapted to your feet. Big brands are making partnerships with major actors of Additive Manufacturing such as HP, and are including the 3D printing process in the production of some of their models. 3D printed shoes, thanks to brands like Nike or Adidas are now entering the mass production era.
Designers will continue to work with 3D printing as it allows to create incredible designs with a lot of freedom. For example, Zoe Jia-Yu Dai is definitely not going to stop working with 3D printing. As she’s interested in men and children’s footwear, new projects could be launched really soon.
The footwear industry is more linked to 3D printing than you might think. All these examples show that there are different ways to create shoes. It can be to push design boundaries or to change manufacturing methods by finding an ecological way to produce, or even to get shoes or insoles made to measure for more comfort. Reasons to create 3D printed shoes are numerous, and it could be pushed further in the upcoming years!
Do you want to start your 3D printing business in the footwear industry? Well, here is our first advice: Choose the right 3D software. Getting the perfect shoe design software will help you start your best project.
You have a 3D model and you want to prototype a pair of shoes, or anything else? You can upload a model on our online 3D printing service.
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