Michele di Carlo’s 4Steps Concept Opens New Approaches in 3D Printed Fashion

By on April 8th, 2024 in Design, news

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The “4Steps” modular 3D printed shoe design [Source: DesignBoom]

A product designer has developed a new 3D printing approach that could open up new categories of fashion.

The designer is Italy-based Michele di Carlo, and the new concept he’s developed is “4Steps”. It’s a unique way to 3D print shoes that are highly adjustable.

Shoes are typically made to fit a single specific size. For children, this is challenging because it means that new shoes must be procured as the child grows.

But what if you didn’t need to buy additional shoes? What if you could “stretch” the original shoe to larger sizes? That’s exactly how di Carlo’s design works.

The 4Steps concept involves a combination of 3D printed parts, injection molded parts, flat pieces and laces. In the concept image above you can see how the components fit together.

By adjusting the lacing the components can be further apart. According to a report on DesignBoom, a 4Steps shoe can be stretched up to five different shoe sizes. In some cases that might cover the majority of growth for children.

The modular approach means that it is also possible for customization. Buyers could choose colors or surface textures, for example. The assembled nature of 4Steps means that the customization could be changed at any time during the lifetime of the shoe, and this also provides a means for easy repair.

4Steps is a very intriguing concept, as it is quite different from all other 3D printed shoe concepts I’ve seen. Other approaches involve printing the entire shoe as a single part.

While the shoe concept is interesting, this also suggests that a similar concept could be used for other fashion or functional items. The assumption that assembly must be done in the factory could be wrong.

Imagine this approach being applied to, say, hats, bracelets, jewelry, prosthetics or other wearables that might require replacement due to personal growth or just fashion evolution. It could be that di Carlo has hit on a new way of thinking about wearable design.

Will this concept be adopted? It’s very hard to say, as 4Steps is only a concept at this point. Perhaps a shoe manufacturer might try the approach in an experimental manner, and then we’ll know whether customers are interested in building and maintaining their own fashion items.

On the other hand, perhaps shoe manufacturers would prefer that customers just buy new shoes every year.

Via DesignBoom

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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