‘I don’t know what it is with women and shoes, but I like it. I would like it even better if my girlfriend could wear a different pair every single day. today this is a reality. women can print this first collection of shoes overnight and wake up every morning to a new pair.‘ — janne kyttanen
For better or worse, we live in a world governed by physical consumerism. 3D printers are both a blessing and curse, they allow us to make more stuff but potentially without the middle-man, shipping, or packaging. What intrigues me most is where 3D printing enables new designs that could not even be considered before. As a result, we have seen amazing wearable sculptures by Neri Oxman or Iris van Herven. While beautiful, I can’t imaging that they are particularly comfortable or flexible. Most 3D printers can only do single prints of hard plastic.
You can get around this limitation by printing lots of small interlocking pieces such as this cute black dress by Jiri Evenhuis and Janne Kyttanen, but creating all these fine details require expensive laser sintering. These printers use multiple converging lasers to focus, heat, and melt individual points of plastic powder. As the model builds up point by point, it is continually supported by the remaining unmelted powder. While you can order some of these models online, these can’t yet be produced in the home.
The good news is that Designer Janne Kyttanen has returned and released the designs for 4 custom shoes. Shoes don’t have to bend as much, and these clog like wedges can be built up layer-by-layer without special support structure and just a little cleanup from some wire-cutters. Best of all, you can download these files from the Cubify website for FREE. The catch is that you still need a roughly $2,000 3d printer but that is at least much less than the cost of the sintering process (the dress by itself costs that much). I love shoes and love the idea of being able to print shoes that actually fit my feet. The current plans go from European size 35-40 (roughly US 4-9). Unfortunately, this is still not big enough for me. The free files are encrypted and only work on the CubeX so there is no easy way to edit these models and make them fit better. I will let you know if I have any success editing the $26 STL files. Still this is a big step in bringing designer shoes to the masses – and they may even be semi-practical and comfortable!! Maybe one day my closet will look like this.
To his credit Janne is still looking into how to recycle shoes when you are done with them.