With 3D printers now becoming increasingly affordable, thanks to scaled-down models designed to fit in your living room, 3D printing is poised to "democratize creativity" and revolutionize how things are made, distributed and sold, as our Lloyd predicts: "No more inventory, no more shipping, no more big box retailer."
From furniture, accessories and food, it seems like anything is game to be printed. Shoes too, like these appealing specimens from Continuum Fashion, a Boston/Brooklyn-based company that is "part fashion label, part experimental design lab."
Called "strvct," referring to "structure," this collection of shoes are made out of 3D-printed, layered nylon and lined with a patent leather inner sole, while the bottoms are coated with synthetic rubber. At first glance, the shoes may look patently uncomfortable (but then, heels are uncomfortable in general), however according to the designers Mary Huang and Jenna Fizel:
With 3D printed nylon, delicate looking forms are actually incredibly strong while also being impossibly lightweight. We present a triangulated spin on the classic wedge pump, which brings to mind Cinderella's glass slipper in its transparency. Expanding on this idea, we created a sandal with a 3D printed base and origami tyvek butterflies.
Each shoe is made to order for US $900, and comes in a variety of colours from black to orange or silver.
While these web-like, cutting-edge cyber-shoes may not be for everyone (I'll sign on once someone prints me a good pair of sturdy hiking boots), they nevertheless are pretty darn cool and a neat example of where technology might be taking design in the future, if 3D printing does catch on -- and let's hope it's not necessarily at the expense of more time-honoured, traditional methods and materials.