James Shorrock writes on Hypebeast his thoughts on how 3D printing could change the future of the shoe manufacturing industry.
He proposes that while shoe prototyping has already led to much more rapid shoe design, eventually shoes could be 3D printed directly, based on current experiments with different materials. Once the correct cushioning and aesthetic qualities are achieved, then it's only a matter of production capability:
As soon as the time needed for the printing process drops to minutes not hours, and as equipment becomes cheap enough to purchase on a wide scale, 3D printed shoes will become more and more ubiquitous.With the current pace of technical progress, we would expect 3D printed shoes to be a reality within the decade.
Certainly costs and speed would have to be much greater to enable practical shoe manufacturing and that might happen in that many years. But we think there's another twist in this puzzle of much greater significance.
If you 3D print shoes for manufacture, we suggest that EVERY shoe should be form fit exactly to the wearer's foot. People will pay more for "perfect" shoes - your shoes require the most careful fitting of any worn item. Everyone knows what happens when you wear a poorly-fit shoes.
In time personalized shoes should become the norm and we'll giggle at those still wearing mass manufactured shoes.