Only a couple years ago, the thought of 3D printing shoes was one that simply did not make sense. This was especially the case when it came to doing so on desktop fused filament fabrication (FFF) based 3D printers. Recently with the influx of new material options available for 3D printing on these machines, we have seen many new uses for the technology.
We have reported on several instances where companies and individuals have created clothing, accessories such as purses and smartphone cases, and even entirely 3D printed shoes. Now, one Taiwanese company, called Lung x Lung Design, hopes to take this a step further.
The co-founder of Lung x Lung, Min-Chieh Chen, has been obsessed with designing and architecture for a good portion of his life, and has a keen interest in digital fabrication.
“I’m a designer with an architectural background, having a strong interest in overcoming the limitations of digital fabrication,” Chen tells 3DPrint.com. “Normally I will build one bigger project with one technology, once a year, such as using CNC, laser cutting, high speed cutting machine, and 3D printing. It’s always cool to design and make things by ourselves.”
Chen has owned a FlashForge 3D printer since 2012, and has continuously been experimenting with different ideas. Last year he 3D printed a Hex Chain 3D Dress which was a remix of another design he found on Thingiverse. Then later that year, he gained a bit of attention from a walking brace that he had created for an injured duck, using his 3D printer.
This year, he wanted to do something new, something that takes the idea of custom footwear and takes it one step further. In doing so, he came up with a 3D printed shoe that features interchangeable heels. When you come to think of it, the idea is really quite brilliant, especially when it comes to women’s footwear.
“Sometimes ladies need to prepare several shoes for daily activities, such as working, social life, and walking,” Chen tells us. “The nice looking shoes are not always the best ones for walking. So why not design an interchangeable heel system? It’s easy to carry without any problem because it’s flexible and anyone can print their own!”
With the increasing availability of flexible filaments, shoes can be 3D printed that are comfortable to wear, while also being able to easily be bent and compressed to fit into small spaces such as a woman’s handbag.
It took Chen three iterations before perfecting the shoe design, which is based on a shoe designed by a company called Bata. 3D scanning is used to fit the shoe correctly to the wearer’s foot, ensuring an almost perfect fit. The shoe is printed in four separate pieces including the toe, the heel cup, the sole, and sole’s heel. Because of the fact that these shoes can be unassembled, the wearer has the option of removing the heel portion and replacing it with another size. Perhaps a woman would wish to wear a higher heel for going out in the evening, but revert back to the low heel for walking around during the day. Lung x Lung’s design provides this option.
It should be interesting to see if Chen continues to iterate upon this design and if he creates any other interesting new shoes in the future. What do you think about this Lung x Lung shoe design? Would you be interested in 3D printing your own at home? Discuss in the Lung x Lung shoe forum thread on 3DPB.com.