Consumer Products

Oliver Cabell launches $95 3D printed sneakers made from recycled plastic water bottles

Oliver Cabell, an independent U.S.-based footwear brand, has released a new line of shoes made using 3D printing. Titled “Phoenix”, the sneakers are 3D printed from recycled water bottles, and will set you back $95. 

The sustainable approach was adopted by Oliver Cabell in response to the ever-present environmental crisis caused by plastic pollution. When creating the Phoenix sneakers, the company describes how it “set out with the goal of turning recycled plastic into a light and breezy sneaker.” The result is a simple, modestly designed sneaker that comes at a fraction of the price of many other 3D printed shoes in the market. 

The 3D printed Phoenix shoe in black. Photo via Oliver Cabell.
The 3D printed Phoenix shoe in black. Photo via Oliver Cabell.

Ethically crafted shoes using 3D printing

Oliver Cabell was founded by Scott Gabrielson in 2016 after leaving his job at a financial services nonprofit to become an entrepreneur. He moved to England to launch the company, with no prior experience in fashion, retail, or start-ups. This when, the company website states, Gabrielson relied on his “passion for balanced design and quality products.”

The new line of 3D printed sneakers made from recycled plastic is a reflection of the brand’s ambition to provide hand crafted shoes using a combination of old and modern manufacturing techniques, while remaining ethical. The Oliver Cabell website states that, “We hand make sneakers using old-school techniques coupled with the latest technology.”

“Our shoes are hand crafted using the best, most ethical factories and materials in the world.” 

With 300 million tons of plastic produced yearly, only around 9-10 percent of it is ever recycled. Aiming to make a positive impact on the planet, Oliver Cabell’s Phoenix sneaker combats the problem by reusing indissoluble plastic that would otherwise continue polluting the environment. 

The Oliver Cabell Phoenix

Coming in black and white variants, each Phoenix shoe features a 3D printed upper (part above the midsole) produced using seven recycled plastic water bottles. The process behind manufacturing the sneakers begins with the company washing the bottles and then shredding them into small flakes. Melting the flakes and cooling them down, they are then pressed through a die to form “long strands of yarn”, i.e. filament. The yarn is further refined and then fed through a 3D printer, where the Phoenix upper is produced. 

Other key elements of the Phoenix sneaker includes a microfiber tongue, a lightweight injection molded EVA outsole, and antibacterial lining to kill odor. Combined, the properties create a lightweight, machine-washable shoe intended for everyday use. 

The 3D printed Phoenix shoe in white. Photo via Oliver Cabell.
The 3D printed Phoenix shoe in white. Photo via Oliver Cabell.

3D printed sneakers from major footwear brands

The consumer market for shoes manufactured using 3D printing continues to grow. In late 2018, Reebok opened a facility dedicated to producing 3D printed shoes. Nike has also used 3D printing in the development of its Zoom VaporFly Elite Flyprint 3D running sneaker. adidas’ highly coveted ADIDAS 4D sneaker range, featuring 3D printed midsoles produced by Silicon Valley-based Carbon, has seen significant expansion. The German footwear giant has put forward a continuous stream of ADIDAS 4D releases since the first pair went on sale in 2018.

Recently, Boston-based sportswear company New Balance also entered the fray, with the launch of a new 3D printing platform enabled by Formlabs, to produce custom, lightweight shoe components. Named TripleCell, the platform has been used to revamp the New Balance 990 Sport and FuelCell Echo shoes.

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Featured image shows the 3D printed Phoenix shoes. Photo via Oliver Cabell.