Shoes of the future- 3D Printed Shoes
When we shop for shoes, most people would consider the style, size, as well as the colour, among other things. And more often than not, we need to go the physical shops to try on the shoes. With online shopping, we face this same dilemma when it comes to choosing the size and the design.
In a lot of cases, consumers feel shoes sold in the market don’t fit with their feet structure or the shoes are not as comfortable as marketed. The solution for these problems may be just round the corner, with the introduction of the latest 3D printing technology for shoes!
In April 2017, Adidas revealed their new sneaker called the Futurecraft 4D. The shoe sole is made using 3D printing— but there’s a twist. Instead of using the conventional additive printing methods, the company uses a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production.
Hang on. Continuous what? It is a real mouthful, but simply put, Continuous Liquid Interface Production or CLIP in short, completely revolutionists the traditional method of Additive 3D printing. CLIP relies on a balance of oxygen and UV light to liquefy and solidify materials at precise points in the printing process. UV light rapidly solidifies resin, and oxygen counteracts the effect, ensuring that a thin liquid layer remains in the tray. To make the object, a small overhead platform dips into this permanently liquid source: as it pulls the resin out of the pool, the UV light solidifies it.
The traditional additive 3D printing manufacturing processes in comparison, is extremely time-consuming, using step wise layer-by-layer approaches to object fabrication. With the critical control parameters used in CLIP process, complex solid parts can be drawn out of the resin at rates of hundreds of millimeters per hour. These print speeds allow parts to be produced in minutes instead of hours.
HOW CLIP WORKS
- The Carbon3D’s build platform lifts continuously as an object is printed.
- UV-curable resin sits in a reservoir.
- UV light is beamed through an oxygen-permeable window.
- A “dead zone” of uncured resin means you can print an item without stopping.
- The UV light projects the object in cross sections, slice by slice, from below.
Pretty awesome, huh?
Pros & Cons of 3D Printed Shoes vs Conventional Shoes
Pro – Much shorter manufacturing time
In the past, the process of design, research and development, trial and test in Adidas for a new pair of shoes usually takes up to 120 days, but with the new CLIP 3D printing technology used for the soles, the process of manufacturing is shortened to just 20 days. This not only shortened the supply chain for sneakers, but also saved cost on doing research and production.
This greatly shortened manufacturing process is a huge advantage for manufacturers, which probably explains why it’s not just big companies like Adidas who are using 3D printing technology for shoes. The recently launched BioRunners by the startup company, Prevolve, are 3D printed in thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is a flexible material with good durability properties able to withstand the associated impacts of running.
Pros: Complete customisation!
Each shoe takes only about 20 to 30 hours to print after 3D scanning the customer’s foot and every pair is priced at $195. Not only is the fit customized for each customer, Prevolve offers three different treads for different uses: on road, trail or as a hybrid between the two. The company is also currently working on prototypes for soccer cleats to bring its technology onto the pitch, said Oliver Brossmann, founder of Prevolve.
PEAK, one of the leading branded sportswear companies in China, also uses TPU powder for the printing material, and the Future sneakers offer athletes a strong yet soft mid sole, with elasticity to benefit runners, making the shoes as comfortable as possible. The 3D printed mid sole is also notable for its lattice-like structure, which offers cushioned support to the wearer.
Compared to traditional sneakers that uses Ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), TPU has more elasticity and solidity, but this also means a difference in the price, it can be quite shocking for some of us, because the price of a TPU sole and a normal EVA sole has a price difference almost 50 times higher.
In fact, TPU sometimes is used in normal sneaker manufacture, placed at the arch of the soles for more support, but a small piece like this can actually affect the pricing of the shoes tremendously, not to mention how much it would cost for the company to fully use TPU to make a shoe sole.
“That is because of the material being used in the printing process”, said a representative from PEAK.
But the new manufacturing method can aggressively shorten the cycle of producing a pair of sneakers, which means being able to react to the market even faster, at the same time ensuring mass production quality.
Perhaps the price is fair for shoes that are completely customized to one’s own feet, that are yours and yours alone, just like Cinderella and her glass slippers that fit her alone in the entire kingdom.
What do you think?
Here are some links if you feel that’s a fair price to pay for shoes that are literally made just for you.
Where you can buy 3D Printed Shoes
Feetz – https://feetz.com/
Prevolve – https://www.pre-volve.com/shoes/
Price From $195