Additive manufacturing has been tip-toeing its way into the footwear industry through 3D printed insoles and midsoles. This has been done mainly by means of Stereolithography (SLA) processes due to the capabilities of elasticity and fine detail.
Nonetheless, OESH Shoes, based in Charlottesville, Virginia, has utilized FFF/FDM 3D printing to create non-marking, lightweight footwear without a separate midsole or outsole, eliminating the need for toxic adhesives.
I put myself in one of OESH’s newly released shoes, the Salon, a pair of knitted and 3D printed clogs, for a day to get a feel of how effective FDM can benefit the consumer’s feet.
A gait-way to 3D printed footwear
The Salon felt reminiscent of wedge sandals with the added comfort of a knitted hood. Walking around with these shoes on the tumultuous London streets was noticeably comfortable and also made me feel slightly taller thanks to the heightened outsole. Dr. Casey Kerrigan, M.D., Co-Founder of OESH Shoes, spoke with 3D Printing Industry more on the design of the shoes.
“The unique springiness that you’ll feel is the result of an encapsulated honeycomb spring structure that’s impossible to make without 3D printing. The sole is all one piece of one thermoplastic elastomer material and the heel piece is of the same material. The 3D printed holes along the edge of the sole would [also] be impossible to make without 3D printing. They allow for the upper and insole to be crocheted to the sole without any adhesives.”
As well as the mechanical advantages, the Salon’s are made locally, on-demand with recyclable materials to minimize waste. Furthermore, the upper cotton section is constructed on a flat knitting machine with reinforced holes that line up with the 3D printed holes in the sole.
Presently, the Salon shows are available via OESH Shoes for all woman’s sizes in the colors pebble, mahogany, neptune, and copper for the price of $119.
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Featured image shows OESH’s 3D printed Salon shoes. Photo via OESH.