03 Mar


Having new shoes that you need to “break in” because they hurt your feet or dealing with shoes that always feel uncomfortable no matter how long you wear them will soon be a thing of the past thanks to 3D Printing. Several shoe companies, including Nike, Feetz, and United Nude, are now using 3D Printing technology to give shoes that are custom made for them — in the store, on the spot.

3d printed shoes

This is the first time when the technology is used to for rapid prototyping. Over the past few years, however, rapid advances in what I call “The Three Digital Accelerators;” processing power, storage, and bandwidth, have catapulted this technology into a tool for manufacturing finished products that include not only shoes, but also jewelry, dresses, car dashboards, parts for jet engines, jawbones for humans, replacement parts for synthesizers, and much more.

When people first hear that you can manufacture something by printing it, they have a hard time visualizing it. Think of it this way: 3D printers build things by depositing material, typically plastic or metal, layer by layer, until the prototype or final product is finished. When the design is downloaded into the printer, a laser creates a layer of material and fuses it. Then it adds another layer and fuses it… and then another and another… until the object is completed.

3d printed shoes

No matter what line of work you are in chances are you wear shoes every single day, whether they are steel toed construction boots, brikenstocks or razor sharp stilettos. Traditional footwear making is a centuries old practice that had relied on the same tried and true techniques for decade. The talented young designer has released a collection of nature inspired, high end 3D printed shoes titled ‘BREAKING THE 3D MOULD’ her project seeks to push the physical limits of traditional shoemaking processes and create designs that would be impractical or even impossible to produce with traditional methods such as machining or moulding.

“It was clear that 3D printing could not only achieve this, but would also allow a large amount of flexibility in the design stage, as well as allowing me to push the limits of designs structures.” She told 3ders.org

The custom made ladies foot wares are almost printed through 3D printers from the heels to the last. For making these ladies foot ware models four 3D packages software were used including 3D studio max, rhino maya and zbrush. In terms of printers the artist used an FDM model for prototyping and an EOS printer for manufacturing the final shoe heels, giving them a superior finish.

The shoe making process was divided in 5 precise steps: the first stag was to create individual 3D printed last foot scanners to obtain the exact the parameters for her clients feets. The second stage is to create the shape of the shoes. The third stage involved creating the shoe upper out of embossed leather and the 3D printer is used to create and print the embossing stamp. The fourth stage came with the more traditional shoe making processes of pattern cutting, stitching the leathers and making the insole and outsole. Finally, the fifth step was to print the finished heels using an EOS 3D printer, spay paint it an elegant white, and assemble it to the body.

According to Jia-yu Dai “ the most difficult of this lengthy and detailed process was to create a complex heel structure that could support a person’s weight while also being aesthetically unique.” The intricate cage like shapes and sinuous curves of her heels finally succeeded.

Image Credit:Janina Alleyne&De Montfort University

Chris Joel (Author)

Chris Joel is a writer at 3D Printers Online Store. Hailing from South London, he has a degree in English Literature. His interests include the application of 3D printing technology to art and its popularization.