3D Printing and a Shoe Called Susan

By on March 12th, 2019 in Usage

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 [Image: LAIKA]
[Image: LAIKA]

The Missing Link x Nike Air Max Susan celebrates whimsy and fashion — and 3D printing.

LAIKA’s upcoming Missing Link features Mr. Link, who cheerily goes by Susan. And he’s not the only Susan around: meet the Air Max Susan, a new shoe born of a long-term relationship between LAIKA and Nike.

Designed to reflect Susan’s look as translated to a wearable shoe, the character nods “lend a gleefully haphazard elegance to the silhouette,” as Nike so charmingly notes.

Just like Missing Link itself — much more on that soon — the shoes are brought about with advanced technology.

Nike explains:

“Production of the Missing Link x Nike Air Max Susan and its unique elements benefit from a blend of LAIKA’s specialty in 3D printing (the company was awarded a Scientific and Engineering Oscar plaque for its innovation in 3D printing in 2016) and Nike’s rapid prototyping.”

And intriguingly notes:

“The team also used LAIKA’s Stratasys PolyJet-based 3D printing solutions to create an exclusive pair of the Missing Link x Nike Air Max Susan for Mr. Link.”

Since Coraline a decade ago, the studio has only grown more and more attached to 3D printing. LAIKA has recently been putting Stratasys’ advanced J750 platform to good use for its animated features.

The remarkably expressive characters’ faces (and footwear) have drawn considerable praise. So it’s rather a treat now that the Missing Link x Nike Air Max Susan is the first of several collaborative shoe designs to be commercially released. As of April 9, you can step into Bigfoot’s shoes (and, three days later, see the movie they’re based on once it opens).

3D printing for apparel is a growing focus, as the technology fits neatly into footwear. Carbon and adidas’ collaboration in the FUTURECRAFT 4D shoes is certainly the best-known to date to be widely available, but Nike is no stranger to exploring 3D printing.

And the J750 is no stranger to footwear. One of the very first designs we saw when the J750 was introduced three years ago was, indeed, a full-color multi-material model of a shoe.

So the new shoe is another step forward for the intersection between film, technology, and footwear. Some of the fun of such collaborations is the rise of such intersections, as Nike, LAIKA, and Stratasys might not be the top three companies the general public would think of as the drivers behind a single product that somehow fits neatly into all three wheelhouses.

(And why not throw basketball star Kevin Durant into the mix as well?)

As briefly mentioned, we’ll also have much more about LAIKA’s use of 3D printing for Missing Link. Details will come soon, but I will note that I’m currently writing from Portland, Oregon, mere miles from a certain film studio…

To whet your appetite, a look at Missing Link:

Via Nike

By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.