Engineering & Product Development: 3D Printed Shoes

Engineering & Product Development: 3D Printed Shoes

CNN Money reported recently that Adidas has developed a 3D-printed shoe that it intends to have in retail outlets later in 2017. The process of creating the material for the shoe was developed by a Silicon Valley firm called Carbon and is called digital light synthesis. The process uses UV lasers to project a pattern on a midsole liquid and turn it into a solid material that is at once durable and flexible. The 3D printing process acts a 100 times faster than previous additive manufacturing approaches.

The Adidas 3D-printed shoe is the first step in what will be a transformation of how people acquire footwear. When one buys shoes currently, the process involves opening box after box of shoes and trying them on to see which pair fits the best. The process is imperfect, as Wired reports, because the left and right feet sometimes have subtle differences. One size is not going to be a perfect fit for both feet.

In the future, someone who is shopping for shoes will go to the store and get his or her feet scanned to ascertain their exact size and shape. The store will also gather information about a customer’s height, weight, and preferred activities when wearing the particular shoe. Then a 3D printer will produce a pair of shoes tailored exactly to the customer’s feet. The process will work just as well for a man’s office shoes, a woman’s high heels, or a pair of running shoes. 3D printing shoes will work wonders for comfort and the alleviation of orthopedic problems that often result from badly-fitting footwear.

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