3DP Applications

3D printed ballet shoe eases the pain of dancers

Hadar Neeman, a graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem, has designed and 3D printed a pain-reducing durable ballet shoe.

As part of her final university project, Neeman designed the custom 3D printed pointe ballet shoe called P-rouette. A pointe shoe is customarily worn by ballet dancers to dance en pointe. This is the ballet technique where a dancer supports their body weight on toe tip.

Neeman designed the shoe after seeing dance-related injuries on the foot of her ballet-dancing friend.

On her motivation to create the shoe, Neeman said: “I learned about pointe shoes and the more I got into the field, the more I realized that there was a lot of potential for improving the existing shoe and improving the quality of life of the dancers”.

According to the research paper Overuse Injuries in Professional Ballet: Injury-Based Differences Among Ballet Disciplines, overuse injury is among the most common injury experienced by ballet dancers. From among the sample of 486 injuries, it was evaluated that 82.60% of classical ballet dancers suffered from an overuse injury. An overuse injury is caused by repetitive trauma to a joint or muscle.

Neeman hopes that P-rouette will reduce ballet related injuries and prove a ballet shoe three times more durable than traditional ones.

A close up of the custom-made P-rouette shoe. Image via Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.
A close up of the custom-made P-rouette shoe. Image via Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.

3D printed pointe ballet shoe

A pointe ballet shoe has two components: a box, and a shank. The box at the front end of the shoe supports the dancer’s toes, and shank is a rigid material that covers the sole. The shank is hard enough to keep the foot arch straight during use. The exterior of the shoe is covered with a fabric, usually satin.

The P-rouette ballet shoe was created using the same structural elements but with a 3D printing and scanning twist.

Firstly, a dancer’s foot was scanned with a mobile app built for 3D scanning. The shape and softness of the shoe were customized using the app.

Then, the sole of the shoe was 3D printed with an elastomeric polymer. The lattice-structure of the outer sole was designed to be lightweight, ventilating, and shock-absorbing. Finally, the inner lining was sewn to the shoe together with the binding bands.

The shoemaking process did not require any glue as the elastic satin-like exterior of the shoe was integrated into the sole during the printing process. The result: a fully customized highly strengthened 3D printed pointe ballet shoe.

The P-rouette mobile app gives the option of customizing the shape of the shoe and its hardness. The shoe itself can handle up to 30 hours of performance. The traditional shoe, on the other hand, lasts only 10 hours and requires extra paddings and adjustments.

3D printed footwear

Various companies, prominently sportswear companies, have employed 3D printing technology to produce innovative and specialist shoe designs.

At the start of this year, a collaboration between adidas and Carbon, a company known for CLIP 3D printing, resulted in the creation of AlphaEDGE 4D LTD running shoes. The midsoles of the shoe were 3D printed using Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology.

In April, Nike designed Flyprint, a personalized 3D printed shoe for Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s fastest marathon runner. The same month, a Quanzhou-based Chinese sportswear company, Peak Sports, announced the production of their SLS 3D printed volleyball shoe.

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Featured image shows the P-rouette shoe. Image via Bezalel Academy of Art and Design.