While it’s always exciting to see what’s striding down the runway next regarding 3D printing and apparel, footwear is a truly relevant area for this technology in terms of providing real-world change, functionality, and convenience. And while we love reporting on numerous artistic statements adorning the feet in 3D from high fashion to avante-garde architectures, what’s really needed is help with the every day, common sense shoe or sneaker. The greatest need and the greatest innovation for 3D printed footwear lies in personal customization and comfort due to real fit.
It almost seems archaic to think in this day and age of progressive technology that we go to the store and are expected to fit our feet, long and short, wide or skinny–into nearly the same boxy shape. Now, with the help of NinjaFlex, a talented graduate student from Philadelphia University by the name of Matthew Flail is working to take the world of shoes into the future with Footprint Footwear.
Flail’s footwear doesn’t just stem from the design arena–there’s some serious left brain calculation going on as well in terms of algorithms, which is what the footwear designer uses to make sure that manufacturing is given an overhaul in the shoe department. New technology and innovation in textile application make a substantial contribution to the Footprint brand not only in helping users, but also the environment, as an enormous amount of material is wasted in traditional manufacturing throughout nearly the entire process.
Shoe-lovers everywhere should rejoice at the idea of having shoes made exactly to the specifications of their own feet, offering the ultimate in comfort, and reducing pressure and actual damage to the body due to misaligned footwear and the very basic–and all too common–ill fit.
“Through case-specific advisements from certified podiatrists and pedorthists we analyze individual foot structure and gait pattern to create unique footwear solutions that are built exactly to your specifications,” states Flail on his website.
The shoes feature:
- A 3D-knit upper, all one piece, which is then steam molded around the foot
- 3D printed midsole and support – generated with computerized algorithm
- Rubber traction
- Standard laces
The shoes aid in everything from flat feet to issues with tendons, joints, gait problems, and more. Thanks to NinjaFlex, the elastomeric material has a texture similar to more advanced shoe foams.
“[NinjaFlex] has a unique ability to resist deformation under heavy stress,” says Flail.
Footprint Footwear features both form and function with a contemporary aesthetic and health-oriented design. With the comprehensive process afforded by 3D scanning, algorithmic model development, 3D printing and advanced textile applications, traditional shoe-making is going to have some serious competition.
How do you think 3D printed shoes would help you or someone you know who is challenged with footwear or a related health issue? Discuss in the 3D Printed Footprint Footwear forum over at 3DPB.com.
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