2015 Prediction Comes True: 3D Printed Jewelry Was, In Fact, In My Immediate Future

In my 2014 round-up post I predicted that 3D printed jewelry was in my immediate future, and I was right!

Ok, it’s true that as the person actually planning to make the 3D printed jewelry, I did have some insider information…so don’t go recommending me to friends seeking a future-predicting oracle. Unless, of course, they’re gullible and have lots of money.

As part of a fundraising initiative, I was involved in the design and manufacture of these cool little 3D printed pendants.

3D printed TNT molecule pendant

3D printed TNT molecule pendant


3D Printed Dopamine Molecule Pendant

I’m taking a group of my students on a volunteering trip in a couple of weeks to Honduras, the second-poorest country in the western hemisphere. We will be volunteering with El Hogar, a home and schools for orphaned and underprivileged children who might otherwise be living on the street or involved in gangs. In order to raise funds to donate to El Hogar, we planned a couple of fundraisers including selling these necklaces at school. Dopamine is the chemical that activates the pleasure centre of the brain, and TNT is, well, dynamite. We also made them in glow-in-the-dark blue!

3D printed glow-in-the-dark dopamine molecule!

3D printed glow-in-the-dark dopamine molecule!

In addition to pendants, we made wooden keychains using our laser cutter. Being a media school, I thought depicting the sound waveform of various phrases would be a hit, and it was. We had keychains with the name of our department, as well as some that said “I Love You” and, in honour of our Spanish-speaking destination, some that said “Te Quiero”.


Our group managed to raise about $900 for El Hogar over the course of four days of selling these in the lobby of our building at school. Overall, we’re getting very close to our goal of $2,500.

If you’d like to know more about our trip and our projects, check out rtahumanitarianmedia.wordpress.com.

My next prediction: lots of marking papers as well as dithering about what to eat for dinner then finally ordering pizza is in my immediate future. I’ll let you know if that comes true. 😉

3D Printed Shoes. Yes, I said 3D Printed Shoes!

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!

Exoskeleton shoe by Janina Alleyne

Exoskeleton shoe by Janina Alleyne

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.

3D printed replicant of Fluevog's Queen Transcendant shoe

3D printed replicant of Fluevog’s Queen Transcendent shoe

Here’s the original shoe:

Fluevog Queen Transcendent shoe

Fluevog Queen Transcendent shoe

United Nude has 3D printed shoes available for purchase:

"Float" 3D-printed shoes from United Nude

“Float” 3D-printed shoes from United Nude

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.

Laurel Tree Sandal, available from Continuum

3D printed Laurel Tree Sandal, available from Continuum

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.