3D Printed Shoes & footwear Accessories
Fashion Industry Terms

Finding a pair of shoes to fit your feet perfectly has been a challenge since the dawn of time.  Thanks to 3D printing, the task has become way more manageable.  This new shoe manufacturing technique is beneficial to consumers as well as the footwear industry.  What makes 3D printed shoes so enticing for consumers is that the shoes are tailored for each person’s unique feet.  The new method is helpful to the footwear industry in several ways.  One of which is the way that the new technology can be used by footwear designers during the sample making process of developing their collection.

Rather than try on tons of shoes in standard sizes, consumers can take a few moments to have photograph taken of their feet in various angles.  Taking photographs of the feet from several angles will allow the computer to create an accurate 3D model of the person’s feet.  In addition to the size & shape of the customers foot, some programs will also utilize information about the person’s height, weights, and a few other data points.   After inputting all the relevant data, the software and printer can create a personalized pair of shoes.

Few people have feet that are exactly identical to another person.  So why would we think that shoe making can use old cookie cutter processes.  In addition to not matching up to other people, it is very possible that your own left foot does not match up to your own right foot.  Finding shoes that fit both feet perfectly is more rare then you may think.  

Another challenging aspect of traditional shoe manufacturing is the sizing system.  Generally speaking, the current shoe sizing system is limited to half-integer measurements (6, 6 1/2, 7, 7 1/2, 8 etc.).   Additionally, the measurement is only taking into account the length of someone’s feet. Finding shoes for wide or thick feet is difficult.  3D printing shoes help solves these challenges.

Note: some shoe designers and stores sell out of the box shoes in more sizes than described above.  They have variety of lengths and widths which give consumers more choices than in the past.  Thanks to the internet, consumers are most definitely finding a greater selection of out of the box shoe size choices than in years past.

Learn more about 3D Printing in the Fashion Industry in our fashion industry terms section.

You may want to view the adidas 3D running shoe news article on our blog.


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What is 3D printing and how does it work? 3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three-dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D-printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object. It starts with making a virtual design of the object that is to be created. This virtual design is made in a CAD (Computer Aided Design) file using a 3D-modeling program (for the creation of a totally new object) or with the use of a 3D scanner (to copy an existing object). A 3D scanner makes a 3D digital copy of an object.

We hope this helps you better understand manufacturing shoes with 3D printers.

You may also want to learn more about women's shoes and men's shoes here in our terms section.