3D printing is progressively changing the way that we can buy our shoes. Companies are starting to look into it more because it’s a great method for mass-market distribution and customizable products. Custom insoles and orthotics are among the common products being produced and we’re seeing companies like Nike and New Balance taking part in this. Other companies such as Wiivv and SOLS have tapped into the orthotics market. In the future we could see many other companies such as 3DShoes joining in with orthotics. Comfort and customization are essential for consumer attention.
IndustryARC, the foot orthotics industry, was valued at $2.5 billion in 2014 and is expected to hit $3.5 billion by 2020. Although customized insoles are noticeably a good part of the 3D printed shoes market other doors are being opened for these companies taking part. There are multiple methods that these shoes can be produced. For example, SOLS and Wiivv are using selective laser sintering which melts the design of the insole into a layer of powdered plastic. After which, the insole is then excavated out of the powder. Processes like these are more affordable than the traditional ways of customizing insoles.
With 3D printing we will be able to create products when the customer orders them, rather than making them in many sizes and having piles of waste fabric. Some companies are talking about having insoles, or even entire shoes, printed from stores or through at-home machines. Sites like 3DShoes.com will have designs posted online for consumers to purchase with their own printers. Consumers will be able to take designs and customize them to best fit their own feet and provide comfort at the same time. Shoes types like running shoes will give the wearer both comfort and support for better performance.
For now 3D technology works best on a small scale, and printing millions of the same shoe is significantly different than making millions of shoes with customized components. But as technology expands we will be seeing more possibilities for this customization to happen using camera technology at home to make a model of your foot, and to be applied to the shoes you desire. The interest in insoles is growing, and so is the 3D Shoe market.
Original Article: http://www.thestreet.com/story/13432524/1/the-hottest-trend-in-3d-printing-could-change-the-way-you-buy-running-shoes.html