Attention all fellow shoe-problem sufferers (including those who carry bags from Browns that say “Yes, I have a shoe problem. No, I don’t need help.”): You’re about to have a 3D printer problem.
Have you seen some of the designs for 3D printed shoes? They’ve been kicking around for a couple of years (see what I did there?) but I thought it was worth sharing a few pics here for your viewing pleasure.
This is one of the first 3D-printed shoe collections I was aware of — the ‘Exoskeleton’ shoe series by designer Janina Alleyne from 2012. Clearly not a walking-friendly shoe, but a breathtaking design!
Recognize the shoe below? It’s a Fluevog (I have a version of this shoe with an ankle strap and LOOOVE it.) Some folks with a company called The 3D Printer Experience did an experiment to see if they could replicate the shoe but in the end had to ask Fluevog to share their digital design files with them, because the scanning process didn’t work as well as they’d hoped. If you’re not familiar with how the ‘replicator-like’ process of 3D printing works, it actually involves a 3D scanner that can make a digital file of a 3-dimensional object that can then be printed using melted plastic that is ‘printed’ layer by layer…at least in theory. Complex objects are of course challenging to scan and print.
Here’s the original shoe:
United Nude has 3D printed shoes available for purchase:
And Continuum fashion also has 3D printed shoes available for purchase. This is their Laurel Tree Sandal for $265 US,which looks to me like a design that uses the technology in the best possible way — print the platform sole but use softer, more breathable materials for the parts that will contact the top of the foot. That’s smart design (although how comfortable these actually are I have no idea). Head to Continuum’s website to also check out their 3D-printed bikini, if you dare.
Obviously until we’re able to graduate from 3D printers to actual Star-Trekian replicators, we’re stuck with printed shoes made from plasticky materials. Melissa brand shoes, who specialize in designs made from plastic, might be worried about the competition, but other shoe manufacturers don’t have much to worry about until someone figures out how to print leather. But that starts getting us into creepy Margaret-Atwood-style-post-apocalyptic genetically-modified-organism territory. Ick. (If you haven’t read the MaddAdam trilogy by one of Canada’s greatest authors, go read ’em. They’re awesome. And scary.)
Still, Ima get my hands on a printer. Maybe not for shoes — yet — but there are definitely some great jewelry design applications for little 3D-printed rings, beads and components. I’ll round up some examples of that to share with you in another post.