3D printing has revolutionized the manufacturing industry, and the footwear industry is no exception. Over the years, 3D printed shoes have been launched to fanfare, then seemingly faded away. However, in 2023, 3D printed shoes are back and better than ever. In this article, we will explore the latest developments in 3D printed shoes and the benefits they offer.
The Rise of 3D Printed Shoes
Although 3D-printed shoes have been around for almost a decade, major fashion brands – in particular couture houses – have rarely made use of the technology in their designs. Sportswear brands have led the charge, with notable exceptions including Dutch designer Iris van Herpen, who worked with designer Rem D Koolhaas to showcase 3D-printed shoes on the couture catwalk in 2013. Sportswear giant Nike used 3D-printing to create football boot studs in 2013, while rival Adidas launched a 3D-printed offering back in 2016. Shortly after, American company Under Armour joined the list of sportswear companies incorporating 3D printing into shoes with the release of its lattice-soled trainers. However, as the technology has improved, more brands – including high fashion companies – have woken up to the benefits of using 3D printing in their footwear manufacturing.
Benefits of 3D Printed Shoes
The benefits of 3D printed shoes are numerous. The speed and agility around product development and the freedom on the design process offer many advantages. Here are some of the benefits of 3D printed shoes:
- Complete customization: 3D printed shoes can be created based on an individual’s exact measurements, so they fit perfectly. People with thin or wide feet who struggle to find snug fits will especially enjoy the customization 3D printed shoes provide.
- Innovative, intricate designs are now possible: Completely new and exciting designs can be created with 3D printing technology. Designers can create intricate shapes and patterns that would be impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.
- Reduced waste: 3D printing technology allows for the creation of shoes with minimal waste. Traditional manufacturing methods often result in a significant amount of waste, but 3D printing technology can reduce this waste significantly.
- Improved durability: 3D printed shoes are often more durable than traditional shoes. The shoes can be printed with a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, which makes them stronger and more resistant to wear and tear.
The Best 3D Printed Shoes in 2023
In 2023, the Zellerfeld platform has 3D printed limited edition shoes for influential shoe designers, including Moncler, Heron Preston, and Off-White. The Zellerfeld platform offers customized comfort on a budget, making it accessible to a wider audience. The Dior Derby is another high fashion 3D printed shoe that has been making waves in the industry. The shoe is a futuristic translation of the fashion house’s Carlo model, and the team 3D scanned the Carlo Derby to create the shoe. Botter x Reebok is another exciting collaboration that has resulted in a blend of high fashion and sportswear.
The Future of 3D Printed Shoes
3D printing research analysts SmarTech predict that the 3D printed shoe industry will become a $6.3bn industry within a decade, with 3D printed footwear becoming the single largest 3D printing consumer segment by 2029. These are bold predictions, but are not as crazy as they may sound – it may have flown under the radar, but 3D printed shoes are already common. Recently, materials and chemical experts have started collaborating with sneaker companies to create production-level materials for 3D printing, and now 3D printed shoe parts are as high quality and durability as can be achieved in injection molding.
In conclusion, 3D printed shoes are the cream of the crop in 2023. The benefits of 3D printed shoes are numerous, including complete customization, innovative designs, reduced waste, and improved durability. The Zellerfeld platform, Dior Derby, and Botter x Reebok are some of the best 3D printed shoes in 2023. With the 3D printed shoe industry predicted to become a $6.3bn industry within a decade, the future of 3D printed shoes is bright.