If you’ve ever thought about 3D printing shoes, you’ll enjoy watching the video below about a Portland-based company that makes shoes on demand using the HP MJF 5200 3D printer. Well, it’s not a printer that’s probably in your basement. A ton of printers can cost up to half a million dollars, but its work is quite interesting.
The printer doesn’t make the whole shoe, but just a sponge foam-like TPU footbed and heel. They run the printer overnight and pull out about a dozen pairs at once. There is quite a bit of clean-up to prepare the piece. Of course, there are shoe assemblies left to take into account.
One of the advantages of this method is the apparent lack of waste. We didn’t know it, but the seemingly conventional shoes went to the landfill. These shoes are made for recycling and the company offers a discount for those who send in old pairs.
Of course, another advantage is the speed of production of new designs. However, we wonder about the economics of using a printer that costs at least 300,000 to make a dozen pairs of shoes in one night. Shoes aren’t cheap – we’ve heard that they range from 175 to $ 375 per pair, but they’re not that expensive either. Our bad business math shows that even if you can make a 100% profit and have 0 broken shoes, it will take decades to get one of these printers back. Considering actual costs, profits, and other considerations, that number pushes back hundreds of years. Still, we’re not sure if they leased the printer or shared the time.
Fancy a go? Try the digital shoe design kit. These shoes are quite stylish, but with 3D printing, you can create something you can imagine, even if it makes you look like a fool.