3D printing has been influencing many industries for the past decades. We have seen it being used in the medical field, automotive, construction, architecture, engineering, history, education, and many more. But what most people do not probably know is that 3D printing is also used in the fashion industry. We also have 3D printed shoes.
Additive manufacturing is usually used for prototyping; but not with the fashion industry, specifically the shoe manufacturing industry. It is also not really used for mass production unlike in other industries, namely automotive. It is more used as an individualistic tool to show the creative side of the designer and the owner of the shoes.
As there are different types of shoes, the industry has mostly tried to 3D print most of it. Here are some examples:
With brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, they are aiming to mass produce sneakers and other types of shoes with the use of 3D printing. However, not every shoe is designed for mass production. These giant shoe manufacturing companies have also targeted individual athletes and make shoes for them.
3d printed shoes customized solely for athletes to make their performance better. One example is when Nike has partnered with Proways, a French 3D printing company. They created a 3D printed shoe specifically for the soccer field. It was made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Nike has achieved its goal to reduce costs and time in the creation of it.
Another example is when New Balance designed and customized a 3D printed plate for athlete Corey Kluber. Bryan Gothie, Manager of Cleated Innovation Division at New Balance stated that they have concentrated on the spikes and its alignment. It was important that it does not move so that when his front foot it will not move.
“Again, that’s consistency and movement for him, knowing that every time he’s going to pitch, he’ll have the same exact experience. Meanwhile, Kluber has said that the 3D printed shoe plates have helped him in many ways. “We’ve addressed a lot of variables so that now I have more stability, more traction, and just a better feel for where my body is.”
This is where-out-of-this-world design are really made through 3D printing. A Belgian designer who owns footwear company Elegnano has combined traditional craftsmanship with modern 3D printing. She has made 3D printed shoes together with I materialize.
Another notable person who has incorporated 3D printing with shoes, specifically heels is Iris Van Herpen. She has designed countless 3D printed shoes and heels ever since 2013.
One artist that collaborated with Herpen has said that “Iris is very dramatic with her concepts and the shapes she wanted were only possible with 3D printing. They are almost like a sculpture on your feet, mimicking nature.”
Just last year, the shoe industry has garnered over $106 billion globally. Though this number is mostly from traditionally made shoes, the 3D printed ones are also increasing. With famous companies using them in their products, more and more people are being aware of the endless possibility and the power of 3D printing technology.
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