This week, at GIGTANK Demo Day in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 3D shoe printing company Feetz made a big splash. Showing off their patent-pending 3D printing technology at the event, alongside a number of 3D printed shoes and prototypes, the company made a lot of new friends in the Southeast. Not only did they begin to secure funding for their unique line of custom-tailored, 3D printed shoes, but the California-based company announced that they were now a Tennessee-based company, shipping their operations to Chattanooga. And, just in time for the event, Feetz opened up their product for pre-order online.
Now, Feetz has four designs available for pre-order on their site for about $200 a pair. Customers can choose from the original, open air, Beach Feetz or the new Street Feetz, Work Feetz, and Chic Feetz and order a pair tailored to their unique feet. Then, they photograph their feet from a few different angles in front of a special background. This allows Feetz to create an accurate 3D model with its Size Me process. Combined with information about the wearer, such as the types of activities they engage in, how tall they are, and how much they weigh, Feetz constructs a custom pair of shoes, tailored perfectly to you.
Then, the team 3D prints the shoes in a single printing process, using their proprietary 3D printer. Passing under three printheads, the shoes are built up layer-by-layer using a variety of materials and colors, allowing for a strong sole, a cushioned insole, and a flexible 3D printed exterior. Engineer, and GIGTANK mentor, Graham Bredemeyer informed me that the company is even working on a more complex 3D printing process that I can’t go into detail here.
Thanks to the pre-orders and, likely, some venture capital, Feetz hopes to get their shoes shipped in time for the holidays this December. And, as they continue to grow, they will be adding new materials to their 3D printed shoes. Speaking with CEO Lucy Beard and CTO Nigel Beard at GIGTANK, I learned that, in addition to their own printer, the company is developing their own materials.
Nigel told me that he’d prototyped a faux leather material and was working on a ceramic composite, to increase the porosity of their shoes for greater breathability. Additionally, Feetz has come up with a method for coating their SizeMe shoes in 2D patterns, which are then affixed to the footwear with a special liquid bath (seen in the black and white Street Feetz in the background). The company is even partnering with some big names to get these materials out of the test tube and into their shoes.
In addition to the pre-order news and display of prototype shoes, the company’s CEO informed me at a GIGTANK networking event that Feetz had taken on Uli Becker, the former CEO of Reebok, and Jana Eggers, the former CEO of Spreadshirt, as advisers. Due to the response at GIGTANK, the CEO’s down-to-earth, but energetic presence, the partners involved, and the company’s well-executed product, I wouldn’t be surprised if Feetz wasn’t one of the fastest runners out of the gates of GIGTANK.
All photos by Danielle Matich of Volim Photography.