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3D Printing for Your Feet

The versatility of 3D printing is part of what makes it so interesting to cover. Instead of being stuck looking at a single aspect of a specific technology, additive manufacturing (AM) is capable of astonishing variety in applications. From architecture to medical technology, AM has it all. Now it even has your feet covered.

SENAI, Brazil’s national industry education service, will be presenting awards for the best shoe designs using Delcam CRISPIN’s Shoemaker software as part of the SENAI Bagueira Marcio Leal. The CAD software allows, and to Brazil’s way of thinking, encourages, designers to work solely within a virtual environment to speed up the creation of new shoes.

Close at hand during the ceremony will be a ZCorp 3D Printer, giving people an idea of how CAD files can be quickly translated into real products. Runners up will even receive colored 3D printed prototypes of their designs. The shoe industry could be the next sector in which AM makes a big splash.

Andreia Chaves’s Invisible Shoe.

Andreia Chaves’s Invisible Shoe. Courtesy of Andreia Chaves.

To succeed in the highly competitive market, it is necessary for footwear companies to use design, get ahead of their competitors. Currently, most footwear companies design footwear … without having an interface with CAD. It becomes possible for the designer to develop a technical model of the mould and then make the footwear sample by prototyping. Solutions like these give micro and small enterprises levels of competitiveness similar to the larger enterprises by allowing the release of new collections of shoes in the same time-scale as the major competitors … –Fabio Sergio Carrion, director of SENAI Bagueira Marcio Leal

A Swedish designer named Naim Josefi expects that as the technology and materials involved in 3D printing continue to improve and expand, that people will be able to go to a shoe store, have their feet scanned, and then pick up a printed pair of shoes that fits them perfectly. That sort of scenario is the ultimate promise of AM for the consumer.

Fashion designers Andreia Chaves and Pauline van Dongen have begun to experiment with using 3D printers to create unique shoes that complement their designs. Like most haute couture, these shoes aren’t really user-friendly, and are only intended to survive a trip down the runway and back. Comfort aside, this is another innovative use of AM.

Below you’ll find a short video that shows off some shoes made through 3D printing.

Sources: Boing Boing, 4-traders

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About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

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