Chicago-based Instructables user and maker Patrick S, who goes by the username Mizchief100 (we’ll refer to him as “Mizchief” henceforward), decided to combine his passion for rollerblading with his 3D design and printing know-how. He used his MakerBot Replicator 2 to print himself a couple of custom rollerblades that, when put to the test next to his factory-produced skates, withstood the rigors of urban surfaces with aplomb.
He noted that any printer with a build volume of 11” x 6” x 5” or more will do the trick. If you don’t have a 3D printer and want to make your own skates, Mizchief suggests using a 3D printing service like Shapeways and then assembling the rollerblades yourself. He provides a list of parts you’ll need to complete the project on Instructables.
The DIY enthusiast suggests that previous knowledge of CAD would be helpful when designing your own rollerblades. He used Autodesk Inventor 2013 and shared the files (STL) on Thingiverse. In order to customize the skates, you will need to trace your own foot. Mizchief cautions that you should stand, putting weight on your foot, while doing so to get the most accurate model of your foot — and trace slightly larger than your foot to ensure best fit.
Rather than attaching the top of the boot portion of the skates to the lower part by glue or some other process, he adjusted his design so that the two pieces lace together beginning at the toe. The open design on the top of the skates means less material is required for 3D printing and the skates are lighter than the average rollerblades. After printing his first pair of skates, Mizchief realized that the tongue and the part of the boots that covers the top part of the foot are basically unnecessary, he altered his design and eliminated that material, adding a toe piece instead.
One limitation that Mizchief encountered was that he could only incorporate three wheels into his rollerblade design. In the interest of structural integrity, he wanted the lower part of the skate that holds the wheels to be a single piece. One solid piece for three wheels was the size limit for 3D printing on his MakerBot Replicator 2. Mizchief also did not include a brake in the rollerblade design due to both size constraints and his own personal preference not to use a rear brake when rollerblading, preferring to stop via toe dragging.
It took about 7 hours to 3D print the boot portion of the skates and another 6.5 hours to produce the lower part where the wheels are installed. Since the boots are made from mostly inflexible plastic, the support in the boots is good but there will probably be little give. Mizchief admitted that the plastic “is pretty uncomfortable,” but he solved the comfort and fit problem by inserting a layer of carefully cut craft foam into the boot along the sole and the back of the heel and a double layer at the ankle.
Note that you can adapt Mizchief’s design to your shoe size and also customize your rollerblades in Autodesk, adding a few decorative flourishes or “extras” as he calls them in Step 8 of the making process.
Check out a video of the 3D printed rollerblades in action in the video below; on one foot, Mizchief wears a store-bought rollerblade, and on the other he wears one he 3D printed. Let us know what you think about the whole project — and if you’ve 3D printed your own rollerblades! — over at the Customized 3D Printed Rollerblades forum thread at 3DPB.com.