Researchers at Australia's CSIRO have 3D printed metal horseshoes - but there's a lot more to this story.
The titanium shoes were produced for a particular horse: its hooves were 3D scanned in detail with a handheld scanner. The 3D capture was used to engineer new horseshoes that fit the horse perfectly. Four shoes were produced in only a couple of hours.
The shoes should be lighter and stronger than typical aluminum shoes, meaning the horse could race slightly faster. There's no word on horse comfort, however.
The bigger idea here is that by doing this, the researcher are pioneering a workflow that could eventually be adapted to 3D print shoes for humans.
We can imagine this future workflow:
- Customized foot scanners capture your precise foot-shape
- Software converts that into a 3D internal model that fits around your foot
- A service that allows you to select a shoe style
- Software merges the custom internal model into your selected shoe style
- Printing the shoes
We're surprised this hasn't happened yet, as all these elements should be relatively easily produced and combined. We've actually seen 3D printed shoes from Objet that are suitable for wearing (they include hard soles and soft uppers). Perhaps the price of printing is still too high.