Where there is need for customization, the technologies of 3D printing and scanning will find their way. It’s quite remarkable how quickly 3D printing is changing the shoe and orthotics industries. Within a matter of 18 months, we have seen a remarkable number of new investments into this space as well as some pretty impressive new designs coming about from some of today’s most talented designers.
Just last week, we announced that a company called Feetz, who 3D prints custom footwear using affordable desktop 3D printers, had attracted a new round of investments. On Friday they announced that they had raised $1.25 million in a seed funding round which was led by Khosla Ventures. This represents just one of several key investments we have seen in this space recently.
With the rise of custom footware and orthotics, comes a need for tools which accurately scan and photograph the foot. Imagine having near-exact scans of your feet on your smartphone wherever you go, then being able to simply show those scans to a retail agent at a shoe store and have them either order you a custom pair of shoes, or suggest a pair that’s in stock which will fit you the best. Better yet, imagine shopping online for your next pair of shoes, simply selecting the style you desire, and receiving a pair in the mail within a couple of days which fit your feet perfectly. That’s where we are headed, thanks in part to 3DSHOES.com.
Based out of San Diego, California, 3DSHOES is pretty much the hub to the 3D printed shoe industry. This last week they’ve launched a mobile application which has the potential to change the way we all purchase footware, online and off. The application, currently available on iOS, is simply called 3D Shoes, and is powered by Right Shoes, a Swiss company who has slowly been transforming the shoe industry themselves. Right Shoes produces 3D foot scanners which are in use at retails stores across Italy and Switzerland, in addition to their own mobile scanning app.
The 3D Shoes app will turn your iPhone or iPad into a mobile 3D scanning device. It works by taking numerous photos of one’s foot, and then transforming that data into a completed 3-dimensional model with accurate measurements in all directions. Once the model is created, it can then be uploaded into the Right Shoes system where it will remain on the cloud for when it’s needed.
While shoe shopping, one can easily access their profile within the app, simply send their scans off to get printed, or perhaps even print shoes themselves at home. Michael Mazzotta, Founder of 3DSHOES, tells us that the company’s goal is to build up a substantial database of feet, all accessible via the cloud. Individuals can quickly access their feet, order shoes, and almost never have to return their purchases since they will almost always fit perfectly.
Many shoe companies and third party ecommerce websites have substantial expenses due to the high percentage of returns when customers order shoes online. This is because not every size 9 will be the exact dimensions as another. Returns equate to higher expenses, which equate to higher prices being passed on to the consumer. A new business model where customers store scans of their feet in the cloud could drastically reduce the ultimate costs they pay at the cash register or on the internet.
The 3D Shoes application will work with all iOS 7.1 devices and higher, and should eventually be available on Android devices as well. Let us know if you have downloaded the 3D Shoes app, and what your thoughts are. Discuss in the 3D Shoes Mobile App forum thread on 3DPB.com.