Are tailored shoes set to become an affordable, accessible fashion item by this time next year? According to Lucy Beard, developer and CEO at San Diego start-up Feetz, they might just be. Beard’s company, which launched at the Inside 3D Print Conference in New York, will specialise in 3D printing footwear to specifically suit the exact dimensions of each individual customers’ feet.
You might assume such a process would involve a hugely complicated method but, according to Beard, the whole thing can be handled from the comfort of your desk and your customised shoes will be on your feet in just seven days.
All you have to do is take three photographs of each of your feet from specified angles and upload them to the Feetz website, before deciding upon the colour and design that you’d like. The company then utilise specially developed software to turn the images into 3D printable models, fire them off on a printer and ship them off to your door, all within a week.
Though, eventually, she sees Feetz’s products as being accessible to a wide market of customers, initially Beard believes her company will help people with orthopaedic problems:
So many people have feet problems because one foot is bigger than the other or the shoes just don’t fit their feet right… I want to solve that need and that pain for those people. 3D-printing shoes for them is really a simple solution that could solve a lot of their problems.
Feetz is by no means the first shoe maker to utilise 3D printing in its footwear designs. About this time last year, we saw the launch of Nike’s Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Cleat, which was partly rendered using Selective Laser Sintering technology, while New Balance has used additive manufacturing to create running shoes with cleats specific to exact running tracks.
Yet Feetz is, thus far, the most mass-market orientated 3D printed footwear enterprise we’ve seen. Before you start frantically snapping photos of your feet, however, we should clarify that Feetz will not be taking orders until at least the end of the year, though you can sign up for its email list on the website. Also, though Beard hopes eventually to be able to offer a long menu of materials to customers, initially the shoes will only be available in a rubber-like substance.
Though the price is not specified, Beard has indicated that her product will cost less than a pair of designer shoes.