Footwear made with additive manufacturing is a relatively recent revelation. Though the concept of 3D printing first entered the scene in the late 1970’s, it was only incorporated into the footwear industry three decades later in 2014, with adidas’s Futurecraft 3D printed midsoles. Since then, 3D printing has taken over the footwear industry, with Reebok, Nike, Puma, New Balance and many other industry giants embracing the technology. ELASTIUM, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) based startup, is the most recent addition to the growing market of 3D printed shoes, and is set to surprise the footwear industry with its new foam sneakers. The company, founded by engineer and tech entrepreneur Robert Karklinsh, aims to disrupt the $500 billion industry by offering fully 3D printed footwear made from 100% recyclable foam materials.
Unlike other 3D printed footwear startups that rely on basic materials and technologies, ELASTIUM combines lattice structures with advanced foams to create sustainable, personalized, and incredibly comfortable sneakers. The lattice-structured low-density thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) foams used in ELASTIUM sneakers are fabricated through a proprietary granulate extrusion 3D printing technology. This innovative approach ensures that the sneakers are not only soft and comfortable but also provide cushioning and resilience comparable to high-performance sneakers from renowned brands like Nike and Adidas.
ELASTIUM employed a proprietary fused granulate fabrication (FGF) foam 3D printing technology, which significantly reduces material costs by using industry-standard raw materials in the form of granules. This cost-effectiveness sets ELASTIUM apart from other foam 3D printing processes and allows for versatile printing in a wide range of densities.
In addition to their innovative production process, their sneakers offer advanced high-performance thermoplastic foam that is lightweight, soft, resilient, and machine washable. Unlike other 3D printed footwear manufacturers that rely on basic unfoamed materials, ELASTIUM combines high-quality TPU foams with lattice structures to create comfortable and durable sneakers that can be worn with or without socks. Furthermore, the company embraces AI-inspired design. The first model, ELASTIUM-1, features a mono-material design that was initially generated by AI and then refined by a footwear designer in 3D.
The Step Toward 3D Printing
Traditional shoe manufacturing processes are slow, capital-intensive, and unsustainable. In fact, a staggering 22 out of 23 billion pairs of shoes produced each year end up in landfills, where they take hundreds of years to decompose. ELASTIUM is changing the game by redefining footwear production. The company’s 3D printing technology enables rapid, on-demand, localized manufacturing, making it both sustainable and efficient. Moreover, ELASTIUM aims to democratize the footwear industry by providing a platform for individual creators and brands, making footwear production as easy as publishing an app on the App Store.
This manufacturing approach is sustainable and on-demand, eliminating the need for traditional footwear manufacturing processes such as mold making, sewing, gluing, and storage. Not only does it reduce costs but also significantly reduces carbon emissions. Moreover, ELASTIUM sneakers are made from recyclable TPU foam, ensuring that they can be repurposed into new pairs. Another unique aspect of launch is the introduction of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). ELASTIUM-1 sneakers will be sold as limited edition physical pairs and as NFTs, which grant the owners the right to order and reorder physical pairs even after the initial volume is sold out. This innovative concept of digital ownership allows holders of the NFTs to practically become owners of the design, with the ability to trade their rights and transfer the digital asset into the physical realm. For more information, you can find the original source HERE.
What do you think of the world’s first fully 3D printed foam shoe?
*All photo credits: ELASTIUM