Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are changing the world, one step at a time. That’s quite literal for one 3D printed orthotics company based in New York City called SOLS. The company, founded in July of 2013, has been on a roll lately, expanding their reach, and in the process, garnering the attention of numerous investors. In fact, last April they raised $6.4 million in Series A funding from venture capitalists like Melo7 Tech Partners, Grape Arbor VC and FundersGuild, among others.
As the company continues to grow, they now are looking to expand the scope of their business outside of just orthotics. Yesterday at the interactive showcase for FAST –AW15, an NBA All Star Weekend event, SOLS was on hand to unveil their latest 3D printable creation, ADAPTIV.
ADAPTIV is unlike anything we have seen before within the shoe industry. The concept combines a system of gyroscopes and pressure sensors with the customization aspects of a 3D printed shell. Part robot, part shoe, ADAPTIV is able to monitor its wearer’s movements to move air pressure and fluid throughout the interior of the shoe to support the foot, ankle and rest of the body during varying shifts and movements.
“Inspired by cutting edge advancements in soft robotics, we saw an opportunity to design a responsive cellular structure that mimics the wearer’s unique biomechanics while responding to movement. ADAPTIV is the next step in the evolution of footwear,” stated CEO of SOLS, Kegan Schouwenburg.
The shoe appeals to athletes who could use its adaptability for support and increased performance while also appealing to those within the fashion industry, as it can be customized in a near-infinite number of ways.
“With every step, individuals will have infallible shock absorption and have the perfect posture,” stated Jordan Diatlo, SOLS Lead Industrial Designer. “My interests in emerging technologies such as soft robotics, shape memory alloys and multi-material 3D printers largely influenced the concept of Instant Adaptability.”
For now, the shoe is only a concept, but it certainly has an intriguing appeal. SOLS envisions that an individual’s foot and ankle would be 3D scanned. From this scan, a 3D printed inner boot would be produced, catered towards that individual’s foot. Inside the printed boot would be 3D printed custom insoles which are equipped with adjustable airbags or air pockets. The outside of the boot would be finished with leather that contains movement sensors, while the ankle area would feature 3D printed silicone airbags as well which can be inflated and deflated for support. Even more impressive, the shoe color could also adapt to whatever the individual is wearing by using color sensing cameras and RGB adjustable LEDs.
The ADAPTIV shoe unveiled yesterday was 3D printed by Shapeways, using a material called Elasto Plastic. The nylon-based material is printed using a laser sintering machine and has a rubbery feel to it. As for the shoe’s design, it was a collaboration between SOLS and a company called Continuum Fashion.
As for when something like this would be available to the general public, a time frame has not been stated. What are your thoughts on this incredible innovative shoe concept? Let us know in the SOLS ADAPTIV forum thread on 3DPB.com. Check out the video below, provided by SOLS, explaining the ADAPTIV shoe in more detail below.