Additive Manufacturing Strategies

These 3D Printed Carbon Fiber Shoes are an Engineering “Feet”

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SilviaFado-HXX-shoe-8Fashion designers are navigating the gauntlet to test the limits of 3D printing, materials and style. Footwear designer Silvia Fado, working in conjunction with 3D printing experts HXX, decided the push the envelope to the edge by creating some outrageous shoes with carbon fiber.

Fado focused her efforts on new technologies and engineering, and that’s due in large part to her studies as an architect. Though she ultimately found herself more attracted to fashion, her designs for footwear exhibit the sort of structural considerations one might expect from a builder.

Silvia Fado

Silvia Fado

After studying traditional techniques for making shoes with one of the renowned footwear manufacturers in her adopted home of London, she went on to complete her Master in Fashion Footwear degree at the London College of Fashion.

Fado’s fascination with the relationships formed between the movement of the body and fashion or sports footwear design has led her to consider the philosophical and aesthetic consequences of changing the dynamics of those relationships.

Her initial investigations and designs looked at absorbing impact from a mechanical point of view, and she uses tools and techniques which range from traditional making to high-tech processes like 3D printing, laser cutting and CNC milling.

Her latest design, made for the South 36.32n, Fashion Festival in Cádiz, is called CARBONALISE, and it’s a collaboration between her workshop and 3D printing company Hxx, a group of engineers specializing in 3D printing.

SilviaFado-HXX-shoe-7-600x400This new prototype was developed with carbon fiber to provide both light weight and exceptional strength.

And that kind of functionality and design doesn’t come cheap. Fado says the custom shoes in the CARBONALISE line can take up their place in your closet for a rather premium £1,000 (or approximately $1,560).

Her Kinetic Traces collection also examined the relationship between the movement of the body and fashion footwear.

“The principal functions of footwear are often sacrificed in Fashion. This project brings Sports footwear fundamentals to high-end fashion. Sports footwear design is based on function and wearability, which are not features commonly applied in Fashion footwear,” Fado says. “I have been analyzing comfort elements in footwear, particularly impact absorption, shoe weight, traction (the relationship between shoe and surface) and upper durability. I sought to bring these concepts into the design of high-end women’s high heels.”

photo+2The shoes collections feature elements which account for internal movement into these structures, and Fado and her engineering partner developed various mechanisms to handle those movements. The mechanisms range from springs to rubber balls to pneumatic hydraulics and metal rings, and now, to carbon fiber.

The manufacturing of her shoe designs utilizes traditional making techniques such as leather work, traditional machining, metal work and wood shaping, but she also relies on rapid prototyping to create the 3D milled, laser cut and 3D printed elements of her footwear.

What do you think about designer Silvia Fado’s 3D printed, carbon fiber high-fashion footwear? Let us know in the 3D Printed Carbon Fiber Fashion Shoes forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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