3D-Printed Shoes Being Developed with Novel Shapes
3D-printing technology is currently being used to make prototypes, meat, human tissue for transplantation, houses and now shoes. In what seems like an inevitable usage for 3D printing, running shoes are being customized. WertelOberfell, a German technology company, is bringing 3D-printed shoes that are designed to respond to stress during activity in extremely innovative ways.
Running shoes are currently being customized along with other fitness products. Companies including Brooks and Nike are working to bring shoes to athletes based upon their biometrics. Often times, a running shoe will be customized for the user based upon tests and evaluation during simulated exercise.
The WertelOberfell shoe is an innovative 3D-printed athletic feat of engineering. The shoe is molded to the user’s foot and shapes that thicken when stressed are added into the shoe’s design. The 3D-printed shapes are called “auxetic”, and react to stress during movement in a way to provide support to the user.
Auxetic shapes are incorporated into the shoe design, meaning that these materials react opposite to the way fabric usually does. When force is applied, the shoes thicken to protect the user’s foot. They have a “negative Poisson ratio”, which is revolutionary for a shoe.
Asics has recently entered the 3D-printed footwear market with the Actibreeze 3D sandal. This item is designed for athletic recovery, and the design of the shoe fosters heat transfer from the user out of the shoe and is extremely supportive. The shoe itself takes advantage of the speed and features a matrix of material that supports the user. In essence, similar to the WertelOberfell shoe, it can be customized to the user, and once donned can provide comfort and support.
The 3D-printing of shoes does not surprise me. Shoes and athletic wear have been customized for more than a decade, and the structure of shoes can be easily customized and engineered for cost savings using 3D-printing methods. Structures inside of a shoe that exchange heat and support users can be 3D-printed at a cost that companies and users will support.
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