Jun 15, 2015 | By Alec

While the footwear industry is slowly getting to grips of what exactly 3D printing technology can do for them, one Chinese inventor has already taken things one step forward. For Liu Feng has developed a very interesting and very functional 3D printed washing machine specifically designed for cleaning your shoes safely, properly and without damaging them.

As Liu Feng tells 3ders.org, he is a 28-year-old from the Yunnan province in China, who has always dreamed of becoming an inventor and creating useful options for people. ‘In order to achieve my dream, I resigned from my job in the IT industry in late 2012, and began my career as an inventor,’ he says. However, becoming an inventor isn’t easy on a limited budget – that’s why Back to the Future’s Doc Brown poured his family fortune into inventing. ‘I was having a difficult time in the beginning, because components are just too expensive. Local factories were not able to make samples, and the time and logistics for many options are just out of control,’ he says.

A superior automatic version of the machine.

A basic machine

That is exactly why he turned to 3D printing technology for his specialized washing machine. ‘With 3D printers, I can try different things for the design, and the worst result would just be to waste materials. For this project, I used my 3D printer to print a lot of parts, of which 75% parts were eventually turned into scrap, but precisely because of these wasted products I found the best solution,’ he says.

And his solution filthy shoes is a very good one. As you can see in the demo videos below, his shoe cleaner essentially consists of a container attached to a deceleration motor that is pubbing a sliding board forwards and backwards through the container. An internal motor leads a brush around to get all the dirt off. To use it, simple fix your shoes into place, which are also swung around to optimize the brushwork. ‘The program inside the control circuit gives feedback via a sensor, with the brush’s rotating movement and the sliding board’s movement continuing until the wash process is complete,’ he explains. It’s a perfect solution for all those dirty shoes, and definitely beats spending what seems like hours with a brush in your hand or ruining your shoes by unleashing them into a wild washing machine.

The concept for this clever washing machine grew out of necessities in developing countries, Liu Feng tells us. ‘In developing countries where people are continuously building houses and roads, even city areas quickly get your shoes dirty. So I came up with the design of a small size shoe cleaning machine that can wash shoes very quickly while also saving water and electricity. This idea is not easy to implement, and I have failed many times; the whole project took about two years to complete,’ he says.

As you can imagine, this required quite a bit of 3D printing. The entire basic machine features 55 3D printed components, while a superior automatic version of the machine features 75. Most parts are made in PLA, except for a handful of parts that needed to be polished before use and were therefore made in ABS. All of the parts were made with a Chinese clone of an early model Makerbot Replicator that Liu Feng modified where necessary, including increasing the print area to 295x155x155mm. In total, it takes 97 hours to print all the parts (359 grams of PLA and 141 grams of ABS necessary), though Liu Feng was prototyping for more than 850 hours to complete his interesting project.

The other parts necessary for assembling the machine are: a circuit board, a motor, a cable, a drag chain, a sensor, screws, a rubber synchronizing belt, and some 304 stainless steel parts, all of which he purchased at a hardware store. And of course there’s the acrylic plates that have been used for the container, which were too big to 3D print.

This 3D printed washing machine for shoes is a perfect option for people everywhere, though it is currently unknown what the plans for a release are. Liu Feng has already, however, developed a wonderful addition to his washing machine: a specialized dry rack that can be inserted in your dryer and can be used to dry your shoes safely and effectively. You can see this clever invention in the clip below. Surely both are excellent additions to any household.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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César García wrote at 12/19/2017 7:52:11 PM:

Hi, I'm interested in your machine. Please contact me at alejandro1631@gmail.com

Jaymie wrote at 12/8/2017 6:27:33 AM:

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Abhishek wrote at 3/13/2017 12:36:25 PM:

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Ben wrote at 7/29/2016 12:37:42 PM:

Hello, we are interested in your machine, can you contact us at yj@sunnymetal.com?

Ryan wrote at 6/20/2016 2:39:51 PM:

hello, i would like to have the contact details of the creator of this device, thank you.

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