"Best Guests Come Bearing Gifts" Designer Shoes, Delivered Through Your Printer

by Daniel Reynolds · April 3, 2012

Why wait for overnight delivery? Today, it's actually possible to print out a pair of shoes with a click of a mouse. But how is this possible, you ask?

Using newfangled technology, designers can create a digital rendering of their design, which can be downloaded by a user to a 3D printer. The printer then constructs the shoe, layer by later, with a special kind of plastic, until voila, you've got a heel. 3D printers can also create jewelry, toys, and pretty much any small doohickey with a digital blueprint. (There's a whole website where people share free printable designs with each other at Thingiverse.)

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Here's a video of the printer in action:

Neat! But such a contraption must be expensive, right?  Well, I found a 3D printer on Amazon for $1,699, which is way cheaper than the Louis Vuitton skateboard.

This technology is still pretty new to the fashion world, and the shoes are predictably uncomfortable. The Smithsonian blog wrote an in-depth review of the process:

Most polymers used in 3D printers are too hard and inflexible to make a comfortable shoe, although fashion students and designers have not been deterred from producing them, if only for one lap down a runway.

One lap down the runway! Better print out an extra pair, girls, if you want to walk home from the party. But progress is being made. Swedish designer Naim Josefi conceived an in-store scanner, which would modify any shoe design to a foot's exact measurements. Here's a video of the process:

Though we might stick with our Christians until the kinks are worked out, it looks like 3D printing could bring some exciting changes to the world of fashion.

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