Feb.17, 2014

3D printing technology has some predicting that it will create new, small-scale manufacturing with little waste. One example comes from shoe makers. A start-up in San Diego is working to create custom fit footwear on demand. They combine digital foot model with a custom shoe design and make unique shoes using 3D printing technology.

feetZ shoes are as unique as you are. You just need to take three pictures from different angles of each foot and send the images to FeetZ. Using a special software the company would turn the images into a 3D model and utilize new materials and 3D printing technology to make that pair of SizeMe shoes. FeetZ promises customer would get their shoes in seven days.

Shoe manufacturing is a perfect fit for 3-D printing technology because feet are unique, and printing shoes allows for extreme customization, said Lucy Beard, product developer, founder and CEO of feetZ.

"So many people have feet problems because one foot is bigger than the other or the shoes just don't fit their feet right," Beard said to CNBC. "But if you print a shoe just for that foot, it's going to be so comfortable, you're not going to want to take it off."

Having a shoe tailored to your specific foot seems like an extreme luxury, especially for people who have orthopedic problems, but new technology makes it seem possible.

With 3D printing you can get a perfect fit shoe for each foot. Beard said that she wants to solve that need and that pain for those people. And the company will also have the ability for customers to design their shoe with some style and color options.

Some shoe manufacturers, such as Nike and New Balance, have already used 3D printing to help making shoes. Nike is using 3D printing for a football cleat and New Balance is introducing a track-specific running shoe that uses 3D printing to customized spike plate on the sole of shoes that is supposed to enhance performance with every step.

But still, there are limitations on the materials the shoes can be made with 3D printing technology. The materials will be limited to a rubber-like substance, said Beard. She expects more material options to be available in the next two years which will help her offer more shoe designs.

The company will begin taking orders for custom 3D printed shoes by the end of this year, "all for a price less than a designer pair of shoes". said Beard.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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