3D Printing

As Bre Put it on Instagram: “Custom shoes for people with custom feet!”

With all of the recent stories surrounding 3D-printed footwear and insoles this year, I know that I am going to see someone wearing 3D printed shoes IRL[1] sometime in 2014. Even if I have to go out and get a pair printed myself. The latest addition to the 3D printed shoe foot race is a site called “Feetz”. 

Feetz, even though it is still in beta, claims that, if you send them pictures of your feetz, they can 3D print a custom pair of footwear and get them to you in seven days. Using the company’s own SizeMe imagining process, they can translate three pictures of your foot into a model with which to create a tailored shoe. As the company’s founder, Lucy Beard, told CNBC, “So many people have problems because one foot is bigger than the other or the shoes just don’t fit right, but if you print a shoe just for that foot, it’s going to be so comfortable, you’re not going to want to take it off.”  She added that custom footwear could also aid people with foot-related issues, “I want to solve that need and that pain for those people. 3D printing shoes for them is really a simple solution that could solve a lot of their problems.

feetz 3d print show
a photo of the Feetz booth at 3D PrintShow by 3DMKR.com.

Beard was able to show off her business at the 3D PrintShow in New York last week, announcing the coming SizeMe revolution. In addition to shoes perfectly tailored to one’s mismatched feet, the company promises some styling and colour options. As mentioned, Feetz is currently in beta, but when it launches towards the end of March, their 3D printed shoes will be produced in one single, rubber-like material. Beard hinted to CNBC, however, that, as the company grows, so will the material options.

Based on the Feetz site, there is a good amount of interest in custom footwear. One retired software developer detailed her foot problems, illustrating the demand for such 3D printed solutions:

I’m another eager Beta Tester. My feet are wide, but the big problem is a bunion on my right foot, which is causing my toes to distort in ways that make it impossible to get any shoe to fit without causing pain. Worse yet, though I’ve been a “barefoot-when-possible” person most of my life, the distortion is now requiring some kind of support, so that going barefoot no longer works for me. Oh my, big trouble. To stay active, I’ve had had to do lots of “makeshift” improvisation with foot-things I get from the pharmacy and orthotics that I’ve had made by a doctor, as well as these contraptions that one foot doctor makes out of soft plasticine that he molds to my mis-aligned toes – holding them in a more natural alignment – and then the contraption he’s molded hardens, and I have something that helps … but is too bulky to fit inside a running or walking shoe…

There’s more to her story, including a visit to a doctor’s office, but you get the point.  As someone blessed with what my mom calls “perfect little angel feet”, I’m more interested in the colour and style options. Still, I can see the appeal for the Paul Bunions of the world, too!

[1] “In real life” for the non-abbreviating non-millennials reading this.

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