Thanks to advances in 3D printing, trying on boxes upon boxes of shoes could become a thing of the past. Businesses like Nike, Feetz and United Nude have begun to invest in 3D printers, which cost anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000 and will undoubtedly change footwear forever. In the past, people have chosen shoes according to half-sizes (6, 6.5, 7, etc), but these sizes aren’t always accurate. Realistically, no person has two feet that are absolutely identical; feet that fit into a size 6 shoe may vary in width or one’s left foot might be just slightly larger than the right. With 3D printed footwear, the customer’s foot would be photographed from many different angles and then a custom shoe would be ‘printed,’ made to fit the foot exactly. Notably, Nike is using this new technology to take athletic footwear to a whole new level. As the technology allows Nike to custom fit shoes, the company plans to create athletic footwear that literally fits like a glove to give athletes the closest fitting and most lightweight options available. This is also an important new venture for therapeutic companies like SOLS Systems, which works to create custom orthotics. The company is now using 3D printing to create custom shoes that help to alleviate pain and will custom fit to a customer’s feet.
Contributor: Phoebe Roe