- Customized foot scanners capture your precise foot-shape
- Software converts that into a 3D internal model that fits around your foot
- A service that allows you to select a shoe style
- Software merges the custom internal model into your selected shoe style
- Printing the shoes
Entries in shoes (15)
by General Fabb
Researchers at Australia's CSIRO have 3D printed metal horseshoes - but there's a lot more to this story.
The titanium shoes were produced for a particular horse: its hooves were 3D scanned in detail with a handheld scanner. The 3D capture was used to engineer new horseshoes that fit the horse perfectly. Four shoes were produced in only a couple of hours.
The shoes should be lighter and stronger than typical aluminum shoes, meaning the horse could race slightly faster. There's no word on horse comfort, however.
The bigger idea here is that by doing this, the researcher are pioneering a workflow that could eventually be adapted to 3D print shoes for humans.
We can imagine this future workflow:
We're surprised this hasn't happened yet, as all these elements should be relatively easily produced and combined. We've actually seen 3D printed shoes from Objet that are suitable for wearing (they include hard soles and soft uppers). Perhaps the price of printing is still too high.
If there is a fashion designer pushing the envelope of 3D printed design, it is Dutch designer Iris van Herpen. Her frequent exhibitions often shock viewers with radical concepts enabled by 3D printing. We could write many things about van Herpen's work, but today we examine the shoes designed for her latest exhibition, Wilderness Embodied Haute Couture in which she collaborated with designer Rem D Koolhaas to produce these amazing shoes.
The shoes were worn by models showing other fashion pieces, but we felt the shoes themselves deserved significant attention. According to the Shoe Museum, van Herpen:
focuses on the forces of nature, and examines the relationship high above the ground, while simultaneously grounding them to the floor. The shoes were inspired by the dramatic banyan tree and looked as if they were naturally grown, rather than digitally created.
If you like these shoes, wait until you see the rest of the collection.
We're reading a post by i.Materialise on the work of Physics PhD student Katrien Herdewyn on developing a 3D printed shoe as part of the Shoe Design program at Academy of Fine Arts, Sint-Niklaas in Belgium. She says:
The main theme of these shoes is nano technology. The inspiration came from my studies: I studied electrical engineering, material sciences and nanotechnology at the University of Leuven. I ordered my first experiment in February, it’s a heel 3D printed in polyamide.
The shoes look terrific. But wait - Herdewyn didn't actually 3D print the entire shoe, she started with the heel. Why not 3D print the shoe?
The answer is due to the limitations of materials. While a shoe is a very common object, its design always demands three fundamental properties:
- It must be sufficiently robust to withstand contact with floor surfaces
- It must also be soft enough to comfortably engage with the associated foot
- It must look good!
While a great 3D design can handle the "looking good" part, the shoe must also be both hard AND soft at the same time. In a conventional shoe, this is easy: the upper is soft leather (typically) and the bottom is hard plastic. How can you do this with a 3D printer?
Virtually all 3D printers cannot achieve this, with the sole exception (pun intended) of Stratasys' Objet line of PolyJet 3D printers that can punch out hard and soft material in a single print.
For everyone else you must separately print two pieces, hard and soft, and join them together.
Start with the heel.
We're reading a piece in Forbes that describes what they call the "3D Printing Revolution You Have Not Heard About". They refer to the less visible industrial application of 3D printing in the hearing aid market.
A hearing aid must fit precisely into the patient's ear and therefore must be custom made. Custom made items are ideal for 3D printing because the technology cannot cheaply mass produce anything. But it can produce one-off items in reasonable time and cost - precisely what is needed for hearing aids.
While the hearing aid industry has obviously benefited from 3D print technology, as apparently over 10M 3D printed hearing aids have been produced thus far, we think there are far more "custom product" industries that could benefit from similar automation.
Any product that requires a measurement followed by "sending it off for processing" could be included. Examples include eyeglasses, dental work or clothing. Progress will probably leak into items that today are mass produced, but would benefit from customization.
Shoes are a product we think could massively benefit from customization. Think about it - when was the last time you purchased a pair of shoes that fit perfectly? And even then you likely spent time trying on several sizes before making a decision.
This work should go away forever. Feet could be scanned to determine their exact size and dimensions. Style can be applied and selected via simulation. Finally, perfectly fitting shoes are produced, just for you.
This scenario will repeat in many industries as 3D print technology continues to advance its capabilities.
One of the most interesting items to 3D print on a high-power color 3D printer turns out to be shoes. We were blown away when we first encountered a color 3D printed shoe last year - the visual realism is only broken when you pick up the shoe and realize its made of sandstone.
We've discovered a number of shoe print images on Zprint's Flickr stream, some of which we show here. All of these are not real shoes. They are 3D prints, each made on a Zcorp color 3D printer. Be sure to click on these images to see full size detail.
Why 3D print unwearable shoes? Because they're prototypes. They're meant to test the visual attractiveness of a specific design. Shoe designers develop dozens of variations and print them all out for inspection by the company decision-makers. It's far easier to test prototypes in this way than actually making a real version of the shoe. Should a shoe pass this test, then it may be considered for actual manufacturing.
James Shorrock writes on Hypebeast his thoughts on how 3D printing could change the future of the shoe manufacturing industry.
He proposes that while shoe prototyping has already led to much more rapid shoe design, eventually shoes could be 3D printed directly, based on current experiments with different materials. Once the correct cushioning and aesthetic qualities are achieved, then it's only a matter of production capability:
As soon as the time needed for the printing process drops to minutes not hours, and as equipment becomes cheap enough to purchase on a wide scale, 3D printed shoes will become more and more ubiquitous.With the current pace of technical progress, we would expect 3D printed shoes to be a reality within the decade.
Certainly costs and speed would have to be much greater to enable practical shoe manufacturing and that might happen in that many years. But we think there's another twist in this puzzle of much greater significance.
If you 3D print shoes for manufacture, we suggest that EVERY shoe should be form fit exactly to the wearer's foot. People will pay more for "perfect" shoes - your shoes require the most careful fitting of any worn item. Everyone knows what happens when you wear a poorly-fit shoes.
In time personalized shoes should become the norm and we'll giggle at those still wearing mass manufactured shoes.
This week's selection is London-based shoe designer Bryan Oknyansky's Caged Heels.
Oknyansky runs Shoes By Bryan, a bespoke designer of very unique shoes, operating since May 2011. The award-winning designer begins a shoe design by analyzing the physics of the shoe. He uses personal orthopedic dimensions and ergonomic measurements in the parametric 3D CAD models to produce shoes that are not only stunning to look at, but also incredibly comfortable and functional to wear.
According to Oknyansky's site:
Most footwear designers do not mention the inherent physics involved in the design and creation of footwear. Bryan Oknyansky begins with physics as the main design problem and, as his recent title of Red Dot: Product Design 2012 Honourable Mention testifies, he never presents a final product to a client that cannot stand the test of human wear.
Oknyansky produces many beautiful shoe designs, but we've selected Caged Heels, a set 3D printed in a titanium alloy and finished with leather.
Via Shoes By Bryan
There's more cool stuff from the folks at Continuum Fashion, who have previously produced a 3D printed Bikini. They've now released the "strvct" 3D printed shoes, a mesh-like design printed in nylon. Don't worry, they are indeed wearable as they include a "patent leather inner sole, and coated with a synthetic rubber on the bottom to provide traction".
The design is brilliant in more ways than one. Not only is it visually interesting, but the mesh of triangles reflects the digital origin of the shoe's design: a 3D digital mesh of triangles, also known as an STL file.
The strvct shoes are available for purchase now, at a cost of USD$900 per pair. Evidently they are "made to order", suggesting that they likely will be sized precisely for your feet. There are also variations of the design to choose from.
After jewelry, the most frequently 3D printed item of clothing seems to be shoes. Some of the designs we've seen up to now were totally fantastic but were perhaps more arty than you'd care to wear in "real life". Now we're seeing more practical 3D printed shoe designs by artist Hoon Chung of the University of the Arts London.
Not all of the designs appear to be 3D printed, but least eight are. They've been made by joining two different prints together: the upper and the sole. Hopefully the upper is made from a softer material otherwise they could become uncomfortable.
We're interested in reader comments, particularly regarding the styles and colors. What do you think?
If you're visiting London soon, we'd recommend you spend some time at the Victoria and Albert Museum, home of incredible deisgns of all kinds. Typically the works are historical, but at times contemporary works are displayed. That's what's happening now in a new exhibition called "The Power of Making" taking place at the V&A from 6 September to 2 January 2012. The exhibition includes over 100 "exquisitely crafted objects". According to their website:
The exhibition showcases works made using a diverse range of skills and explores how materials can be used in imaginative and spectacular ways, whether for medical innovation, entertainment, social networking or artistic endeavour.
We're specifically interested in the 3D printed shoes crafted by Marloes ten Bhömer, which we wrote about in January. This is an opportunity for the public to check out these amazing shoes in person.
The shoes were produced with Objet 3D printing technology, which has the unique feature of being able to mix multiple materials together during a single print operation. This means a print, such as the V&A shoes, can include both rigid and soft portions. Very important in a shoe, comfy counts.
The shoe's design is quite interesting: it is made of component parts that offer the ability to reconfigure the shoe, yet it is printed in a single operation and emerges already assembled. The design to wearable process apparently was only hours, truly demonstrating the Power of Making.