The Making of Customizable 3D Printed Shoes

Design students from Poland created unique customizable 3D printed shoes and now plan to start their own business.

For their graduation project at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw, Poland, design students Zuzanna Gronowicz and Barbara Motylinska, visualized their concept for customizable 3D printed shoes. They’re made from eco-friendly materials and can be ordered using an app. ZMorph multitool 3D printer was used to create prototypes and plan the entire production pipeline.

customizable 3D printed shoes
Customizable 3D printed shoes made by Polish designers (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

The spark that inspired the change

According to the research made by Anton Pieper, over 20 billion pairs of shoes is manufactured every year, mostly in Asia. One shoe can be composed of over 30 various materials, some of which are very hard or impossible to recycle. At the same time, up to 25 thousand liters of water is being used just to make one pair of shoes, which is a very high environmental cost. This data inspired Gronowicz and Motylinska to look for more eco-friendly shoe making tools and 3D printing proved to be one of them.

customizable 3D printed shoes
All parts are biodegradable (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

When designing their customizable 3D printed shoes, their main goal was to make them recyclable but fully functional. At the same time, the users would gain the ability to decide how the shoes would look to make them more personal and unique.

customizable 3D printed shoes
The shoes are made without using glue which makes them more eco-friendly (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

Designing customizable 3D printed shoes

Using ZMorph multitool 3D printer, Polish students developed their own method of 3D printing objects directly on wool and cotton. It enabled them to create more flexible shanks and manufacture the whole shoe without gluing or sewing it together. At the same time, the textiles enable proper feet perspiration so the shoes are more comfortable to wear.

customizable 3D printed shoes
Sole model in Voxelizer software (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

Creating a light and flexible sole was also a challenge. Gronowicz and Motylinska came up with a parametric openwork structure that can be adjusted to fit different shapes of feet. At the same time, the structure requires less material in printing (with almost no support needed) while making the sole very durable.

customizable 3D printed shoes
Finished shoes next to ZMorph multitool 3D printer (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

Both 1.75 mm Plastic Extruder and DUAL PRO toolhead for ZMorph multitool 3D printer were used to materialize this project. Single material printing proved to be successful for various types of flex filaments. Two-material extruder printed more intricate objects, shapes, and ornaments with soluble PVA support as well as added color gradients to them.

customizable 3D printed shoes
3D printing parts directly on a material (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

The app that makes it all possible

Gronowicz and Motylinska also designed a dedicated app allowing users to design their own shoes. It’s still at an early stage, but the authors want to give their users the ability to prepare the printing files and save them for free, order a pair directly through the app or to search for a 3D printing workshop nearby.

customizable 3D printed shoes
Customizable 3D printed shoes and an app to make them (Source: Gronowicz & Motylinska)

What’s next for this project?

The project made by two graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts stands out with its eco-friendly attitude, but the ability to design and 3D print truly unique shoes are the most exciting part of it. Gronowicz and Motylinska continue to test and refine their idea for customizable 3D printed shoes and want to turn them into a business. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for their success!

To check out other works or contact Zuzanna Gronowicz and Barbara Motylinska, you can visit their official sites. 

Marcin Traczyk

Content Marketing Manager at ZMorph. 3D printing enthusiast and avid gamer

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