We believe footwear will be crafted with our individual anatomy and biomechanics as the foundation. The DNA concept leverages rapid manufacturing to create a shoe built not only to your foot contours, but also to how you move. By pairing data acquisition (A sensor shoe tracks your details as you do a test run.), user behavior (Are you running or doing cross-fit?), and rapid prototyping it creates a method of mass-tailoring products. Within hours you have a shoe tailored to your foot, your movement, and your style. Shoes should be built for the way you move.
The first step is to acquire the data that an individual’s shoes will be based on. Each customer’s feet are three dimensionally scanned. Then they put on a pair of special sensor shoes and go for a test run or walk. The sensors track their movement – footfall, pronation, balance, etc. – and combined with the scan and activity type create a usable database to build the new shoes around.
Algorithms are used to translate the data into form and the shoes start to come together. At this point, the customer is able to customize the materials, colors and textures of their shoe. Or they can save a shoe design in advance that can be combined with their foot data when they get to the store. Their design then goes to print, and as they shop the 3d printer creates their shoes.
A special thanks to FATHOM, Seattle’s 3D printing and additive manufacturing experts, for making these shoes a reality. The DNA Shoe was 3D printed by FATHOM using PolyJet Technology on an Objet500 Connex3 — a digital combination of rigid and flexible materials were used to achieve the ideal durometer (VeroClear, VeroYellow, Tango, and TangoBlack+).
Before this concept can become a reality, there are advancements that need to happen in 3d printing technology. For example, the materials currently available don’t offer the durability or softness necessary for wearing every day or for athletic use. Further study is also required to ensure those materials are biocompatible and safe for consumers. Today, the cost and amount of time it takes to print a pair of shoes are both too high. But, the 3d printing industry is evolving quickly, and while material challenges may prohibit immediate implementation, user-driven rapid manufacturing will be realized in the near future.