July 12, 2015 | By Alec

So far, the footwear industry has been quite slow to respond to the fantastic new design possibilities of 3D printing. While some projects for 3D printed shoes are being undertaken here and there, a new Dutch initiative might just have what it takes to convince footwear giants that 3D printing is the future. For, with the help of LUXeXceL, Dutch student F. Metin has just completed a gorgeous set of 100% 3D printed, partly transparent flexible shoes called Acryx.

While previous shoe projects often involve 3D printed soles or bodies, these fantastic Acryx shoes are unique for being completely 3D printed. And as you might expect, that took a bit of work and involved more than just a desktop FDM 3D printer and PLA. Instead, the body shoe was 3D printed in the increasingly popular NinjaFlex filament with an Ultimaker Replicator 2, while the transparent components that give these shoes their special look were realized with LUXeXceL’s own Printoptical Technology.

For those of you who’ve never heard of LUXeXceL Group, they are the pioneers of this very new 3D printing technology. Based in Goes, the Netherlands, they launched a new additive manufacturing platform and a new clear material "LUX-Opticlear" last year, allowing high quality optics manufacturing up to 20mm in height. Printoptical 3D printing, to explain, is essentially a one-step ‘CAD-to-Optic’ technology that prints optical components without the need for post-processing like polishing, grinding and coloring after printing. Their technique is based on proven wide-format industrial inkjet printing equipment. Transparent droplets of a UV-curable polymer are jetted (rather than layered) and then cured by strong UV-lamps which are integrated onto the print head. The results? Geometric freeform shapes that may include transparent prisms or lenses, as well as full color 3D graphics and textures.

And according to Metin, these transparent components and unique 3D printing technology are exactly what the soe industry needs. As he explains on the LUXeXceL website, it enables the creation of objects with the highest possible standards in transparence and textures. While the Dutch startup typically focusses on the optics industry, footwear and fashion is thus definitely a field they can expand into. ‘When it comes to the highly transparent printed parts, many people told me that it was not possible yet or it would only be possible with some post-processing maybe, until I told them about Luxexcel and the fact that it is possible,’ the Dutch student says.

Of course, transparent components earlier featured in shoes by Nike and others (remember the Air Max shoes?), but the team behind the Acryx shoes definitely feel that 3D printed transparent parts can play a huge role in the future of footwear. The biggest advantages, they say, are smooth surfaces and absolutely no need for any post-proccessing, thus increasing the overall quality and cutting down on labor costs. Unfortunately, there are currently no plans for developing a commercial version of the Acryx, but who knows what the future will bring?



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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