Mar 20, 2018 | By Tess

Popular Danish footwear brand ECCO is taking its shoe design to new technological heights with its new pilot project, QUANT-U. The project, which brings together 3D scanning and 3D printing for customized footwear, is being launched at ECCO’s W-21 Amsterdam concept store in the Netherlands this April.

3D printed footwear is not exactly a new concept, as startups like Feetz and established sneaker manufacturers like Adidas have been working with the technology for years. Still, to see the trend growing and being picked up by other recognized footwear brands is always exciting.

ECCO, known for its quality shoes and leather goods, is the latest company to investigate the potential of 3D printed footwear. Its primary reason for doing so, like most other 3D printed shoe projects, is to offer clients the chance to fully customize their footwear.

The QUANT-U 3D printed shoe pilot project, brought together by Innovation Lab ECCO (ILE) is reportedly capable of producing a custom pair of shoes on the spot in only a few hours. A select group of people will be able to see the process first hand when ECCO launches the system in Amsterdam next month.

“Throughout my experience in footwear design and engineering, the concept of perfect fit, perfect dynamics and ultimate performance has long been an obsession,” said Patrizio Carlucci, the Head of ILE. “With QUANT-U we are now combining future technologies in order to customize footwear functionality and comfort without interfering with its aesthetics.”

How will ECCO’s customized shoe system work? Well, the company has laid out the process by breaking it down into three simple steps: real-time analysis, data-driven design, and in-store 3D printing.

The first step, real-time analysis, consists of using an anatomical 3D scan and sensor data to capture the wearer’s digital footprint. This step, says ECCO, can be completed in only 30 seconds and will provide essential information about the wearer’s specific orthotic fit as well as how they move.

The 3D scanning and sensor technology used by ECCO was developed in collaboration with UK-based Cambridge Design Partnership, which helped it to realize a bespoke wearable sensor system. ECCO explains: “The sensors measure a multitude of data using gyroscopes, pressure sensors and accelerometers—as well as temperature and humidity inside the shoe—to build up a picture of an individual’s gait signature.”

With this biomechanical data in hand, ECCO can then generate a 3D model of a customized midsole for the wearer. The software used to generate the custom midsoles was developed in partnership with Dassault Systèmes’ FashionLab and uses machine learning and structural simulations to come up with the ideal fit.

“The cloud-based 3DEXPERIENCE platform interprets biomechanic data into geometries for 3D printing,” added the company. “Generative designs are validated through FEA simulations to ensure superior functionality.”

When this design stage is complete, ECCO is then ready to 3D print the midsoles using a customized German RepRap additive manufacturing system. The 3D printer, operating in-store, will reportedly be able to produce the bespoke midsoles in only a few hours. The midsoles themselves will be printed from a specialized silicone-based material developed by the Dow Chemical Company.

“We see a lot of activity on the subject of 3D printed footwear without a solid solution for true mass customization from competitors,” commented Carlucci. “Additive manufacturing offers the chance to create bespoke parts in series but this is rarely translated in a consumer product; most likely due to the complexity of the 3D models and a lack of measuring data to begin with.

“To solve this, we focused heavily on the digital capture and interpretation of motion and orthotic data, then made sure this experience would be no more complicated than trying on a shoe in the store and walking for a few minutes. We truly translated more than 50 years of shoe making experience into an algorithm.”

As mentioned, ECCO will be launching its QUANT-U pilot project in April at its W-21 concept store in Amsterdam. For one week, a select audience will be able to see the 3D printing technology in action.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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