People have used 3D printer manufacturer ZMorph‘s multitool machines to make all sorts of interesting objects, from jewelry molds, neon signs, and wine corks with interchangeable Star Wars heads, to prosthetics, a multifunctional walker prototype, and a really cool revolving puzzle bookshelf. Recently, two Polish design students at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw used the ZMorph 2.0 SX Multitool 3D printer, which was introduced about a year ago, to create successful prototypes of their customizable 3D printed shoe concept and plan a production pipeline.
While 3D printed shoes may have started out as more of a high fashion concept (i.e. almost unwearable), over the years we’ve seen this shift to more comfortable-looking shoes, and several big brand names, like Adidas, Nike, and Reebok, have come out with 3D printed athletic shoes. The customizable, eco-friendly shoes that Barbara Motylinska and Zuzanna Gronowicz came up with for their graduation project could fit right in with the sneaker crowd.
The ultimate goal was to make recyclable, fully functional, and customizable footwear, and give users the ability to personalize their own shoes. Motylinska and Gronowicz developed a method for 3D printing right onto cotton and wool, using the ZMorph 2.0 SX, which allowed them to create flexible shanks, build in comfort in the form of proper foot perspiration, and make a whole shoe without any sewing or gluing involved. The two used a DUAL PRO toolhead and 1.75 mm Plastic Extruder to make the shoes, using multiple types of flexible filaments.
In a blog post, ZMorph’s Content Marketing Manager, Marcin Traczyk, said, “Two-material extruder printed more intricate objects, shapes, and ornaments with soluble PVA support as well as added color gradients to them.”
Coming up with a light, flexible sole was a difficult task, but Motylinska and Gronowicz were up to the challenge, and used ZMorph’s Voxelizer 3D Printing software to create a parametric, openwork structure, which can also be adjusted for different foot sizes. The sole is also durable, as the structure didn’t need as much printing material, and hardly any supports were needed.
Additionally, the two design students designed an app dedicated to their new shoes, where users can actually design their own footwear. While the app is not complete yet, Motylinska and Gronowicz hope it will eventually allow users to prepare and save 3D printing files at no charge, search for a 3D printing workshop to print the shoes themselves, or simply order a pair through the dedicated app.
So, what caused the idea to create these customizable, biodegradable shoes? Both students were inspired by Anton Pieper’s research: every year, over 20 billion pairs of shoes are manufactured, mostly in Asia. The environmental cost to manufacture most shoes is high: up to 25,000 liters of water go into making one pair, and most shoes are made with over 30 different materials, the majority of which can’t be easily recycled. Motylinska and Gronowicz decided that they wanted to be more environmentally responsible, and use eco-friendly tools, like 3D printing, to make their shoes.
They are continuing to refine their shoes, and continue running tests. Once they have graduated with what appears to be a pretty successful final project, Motylinska and Gronowicz plan to go into business together with their 3D printed shoes. Discuss in the ZMorph forum at 3DPB.com.[Source: ZMorph / Images: Motylinska and Gronowicz]
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