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Can You 3d Print Shoes? Additive Manufacturing for 3d Shoe Footwear

Can you 3d print shoes? Yes, you can 3d print shoes. They have been created in a variety of materials including leather, metal, and rubber. One company that has made strides in the 3d printed footwear industry is Nike. In 2016 they released their first-ever 3D printed sneaker called the Nike Air VaporMax Flyease which featured an upper with no laces or eyelets for easy on-and-off wearability with customizable colors and designs via NIKEiD.

This shoe was created by adding up to 20 different high-performance polymers into the printer nozzle to create a one-piece breathable mesh upper through selective laser sintering (SLS).


Can you print shoes?  Additive Manufacturing printed Footwear

Yes, you can. That said, there’s still a lot of room for improvement in the way that designs are made before they ever leave the printer, and then how those files are used once they reach the computer controlling the printer itself.

I’ll go into more detail on this further down below.

What do you mean by “Shoes?” What kinds of shoes? Do you know sculpteo?

Most generally speaking people use this term to refer to pretty much any kind of foot-covering worn on your feet that is designed to protect them from some type of external environment (mud/dirt, water, rocks, etc). Some people, like those with disabilities or who can’t afford shoes, may wear special devices called “Shoe Prosthetics.”

These have been around for a very long time. For the sake of this article though, I’m talking about what most people generally think of as footwear.

There are five main types of 3d printed footwear: Athletic Shoes, Casual Shoes, Dress Shoes, Toe-Covers/Slippers, and Orthopedic Supports.

Most of these will require different molds. Molding is how you create a physical model from a 3d file so that it can be used to make a real object out of some other material (typically rubber). This process is too difficult and expensive to do at home by yourself.

can 3d printers make shoes

Can You 3d Print Shoes?

Before I go any further, let me address the question of why would you want to 3d print shoes?

Many people at this point already have their own answer to that question based on previous experiences with 3d printing and with shoes in general.

The rest of you are probably thinking this is a ridiculous idea or even just finding it hard to imagine how it could be done, so for those who already know why they would want to do it… Skip ahead down below! For everyone else reading though, here’s my take:

There are plenty of reasons why someone might want custom-fitted athletic footwear (running/walking/hiking shoes, climbing shoes, etc).

These are typically produced in large runs though, so it’s difficult to make changes or get very specific fits. This leaves the only other option being custom-fitted footwear for people with disabilities who can’t afford/find shoes that work for them. Custom fitting these is tedious, time-consuming, and expensive.

The main reason why someone might want a pair of casual or dress shoes is that they look good!

If you think about it though, those very same reasons apply to why you’d want athletic shoes as well (to protect your feet from external elements, but also to make yourself stand out among the crowd!).

Athletic and Casual shoes can both be printed in any material you like (PLA/PHA is best suited for running/walking/hiking, whereas nylon is most common for casual items), and if you’re not too picky about how they feel they can be printed using Ninjaflex or even regular filament.

can you print shoes with a 3d printer

Can You 3d Print Shoes?

Orthopedic shoes (comments)

Many people have trouble finding footwear that allows them to still be able to walk and run comfortably after they’ve injured their feet/ankles/lower legs in some way (been there, done that).

If the damage isn’t so bad as to require a permanent change of lifestyle, then you’re stuck with having to wear uncomfortable shoes for the rest of your life.

Using 3d printing you can make molds from your own feet and create custom shoes designed specifically around those measurements.

This process is obviously experimental at this point but has great potential.


Keeping your feet warm/dry when you’re in or around water is difficult without special gear. 3d printing lets you make these items quickly, easily, and with no size limitations (assuming you can mold it).

I personally made a pair of flip flops to wear when I go bath/showering at the gym by simply taking some basic measurements and then eyeballing where my big toe was supposed to be on the print bed (being sure not to actually print that part).

They fit perfectly!

3d printed shoes material

Can You 3d Print Shoes? (cre: sculpteo)

Orthopedic Supports (footrests for bicyclists using clipless pedals) – Desktop metal zone

One day while riding around town peddling over the rocks, I came across a small bump which was enough to throw my foot out of position and cause some serious pain in the process.

A few days later while riding again I stopped by my local library (shout-out to New Albany Library !) to print myself another pair of 3d printed toe-covers/slippers (the cold ground on the bottom of your feet over time will suck the life clean out of them), but then instead I ended up printing an orthopedic support strap for bicycling.

These are basically one size fits all shoe inserts designed to help keep your heels down while you’re cycling, thus preventing any type of injury if done right.

Many people don’t realize that proper cycling technique is actually already built into the pedal design; applying pressure *up* on your feet (rather than down like it is in most shoes) will keep you from ever having to worry about any tendon/ligament damage.

If you’re interested in cycling or want to try and prevent injuries before they happen, I’d recommend taking a look into that right away!

This goes for almost anything else: Keep in mind that 3d printing allows you to make whatever you can dream up (within reason), and if you’re good enough at doing this then maybe someday I’ll have a custom pair of running/walking/hiking shoes designed specifically around my own body measurements.

Until then… Maybe these ones will do

materialise 3d printed shoes

I’ve only been able to test out my own pair of 3d printed orthopedic supports so far, but I’m sure that they’ll only get better over time.

One thing that I can guarantee is that there’s no way that you could have gotten a custom-tailored item for the price which you’re paying right now (assuming this is your first time ever buying shoes online).

For example, Amazon has a collection of Men’s Shoes on sale for $45 or less, yet even with these prices, it would still take many weeks to receive anything in the mail if you live anywhere outside of the USA. With 3d printing though, you could conceivably make yourself a new set of shoes each month until the end of time until something better came along!

Keep in mind though that this isn’t a very cost-effective way to get your feet measured for custom shoes; I was only able to make mine because the 3d printer at my local library (New Albany Library) is free to use.

At least you’ll be saving money by not having to drive all over hell and back looking for a decent shoe store in your area that might just barely have what you’re looking for.

With any luck, and with enough time and experience, someone will eventually figure out how to create a good quality shoe print bed cover which will help keep everything clean and possibly even allow you to mix different types of materials together so that if your heel accidentally lands on something pointy it won’t immediately tear through the bottom layer of whatever you’re wearing.

As a matter of fact, there’s already a decent pair of toe-covers out there which you can download for free from! They look to be pretty close to what I was able to print myself over the course of about an hour or so using my library’s 3d printer.

3d printed shoes template

Can You 3d Print Shoes? (cre: 3dnatives)

3D printed sneaker “ADIDAS ORIGINALS x STELLA MCCARTNEY BOOST” – 3D printing shoe soles

On February 5th, Adidas Originals has finally released their 3D-printed sneakers. The 3D printed sneaker was an item that is created using digital light synthesis technology and is entitled the “BOOST”.

It’s a well-known fact that this brand started as an equipment manufacturing company and during its heydays, they’ve produced and deployed high-performance shoes to sports athletes like Jesse Owens (1936 Summer Olympics), Gordon Banks (1966 FIFA World Cup), and Bobby Moore (1966 FIFA World Cup). They also manufactured the first-ever football shoe called the Adidas Copa Mundial which featured a revolutionary removable screw-in stud configuration on the sole of its shoes, known today as the classic Adidas “TRX”.

As the company’s business grew larger more innovative creations came into play. They’ve introduced shoes with improved designs and new technologies like ADIWEAR which is an outsole with exceptional abrasion-resistant properties.

This shoe is also breathable thanks to its mesh material that was added called ADITUFF that helps protect against abrasion in high-wear areas.

The company has made records when they’ve released shoe collections like Adidas by Stella McCartney with 100% recycled materials used in their footwear line; this led them to be awarded “Shoe Company of the Year” by Footwear News (2012). Their latest product is 3D printed footwear which is also highly wearable.

The shoe’s upper part is composed of a soft knitted mesh material and its sole (boost) has been created using light synthesis technology under the name BOOST by Adidas.

According to the brand, “This product was developed as an ultimate running sneaker” but since its release, it has become more popular not for their target market but more so among the fashion fraternity.

Even Hollywood celebrity Anna Wintour has been spotted wearing them on different occasions.

The 3D-printed shoes are made up of 70% recycled materials, unlike other Adidas products that are currently available in the market today where they use advanced environmental manufacturing processes. It also features 3D printing technologies that are called Digital Light Synthesis which uses liquid resins that are exposed to UV light, which helps the materials to solidify and create a flexible plastic.

how to make 3d printed shoes

What they do to have Printed Shoes?

This shoes upper is made of knitted mesh with elastic yarns built into it using a technology called AMOEBA knitting.

The sole can be recycled but will have no status as being biodegradable due to the nature of its components that are used in manufacturing this kind of shoe.

The Adidas BOOST 3D printed sneaker is also more expensive compared to other Adidas products because of its complex design features and technologies behind it. It costs US$333 upon release at an Adidas store or on their website where they encourage buyers around the world to buy one product or another from their new “Adidas Confirmed” app.

3D printed footwear has been around for quite some time now but there were not much awareness on how it was made and its use for consumers which according to high-end shoe companies like Adidas, might just be the reason why there are not that many people that wants to get their hands on these kinds of shoes.

This led Adidas into developing the 3D printing technology themselves so they can produce a highly wearable piece of footwear.

They’ve encouraged interested fans and buyers alike to try out this new technology and see what kind of impact it will create in the industry where branded sneakers are concerned. According to an interview with Fast Company, Adidas stated: “It’s very light; you basically standing on air,” says James Carnes, vice president of strategy creation at Adidas. “It’s very responsive.”


3D printing shoes is a fantastic way to have custom, one-of-a-kind footwear that you will love. It’s a great option for people who can’t find their size or want an out-of-the-box aesthetic.

The only downside is that it may be difficult to get your feet into them if they are too narrow and/or tight because there isn’t enough room in the shoe for your foot to flex while wearing it.

This means you should make sure to measure your feet before ordering these types of shoes online so you know what size you need!

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