3d printed sneakers

This was my bachelor final project in 2015 when I was studying Industrial Design Engineering. On this page I’ll show in chronological order the process of getting to a final product in collaboration with a client. The end result of this product is 3D printed transparent sneakers.

A storyboard was created to showcase every aspect of the process. This creates clarity for the client and myself. In a final report text was added to give strength to the storyboard, but it was not desperately needed. The final report towards the client was an animated video of the storyboard, this can be found on the bottom of this page.

Luxexcel

Luxexcel is a 3D printing service company focusing on 3D printed optics. As of now, they’re the only company in the world that is able to 3D print optically functional products, without the need of post-processing. They’re located in Kruiningen, the Netherlands. Before going to the client, the day before a presentation was made for the company including my first impression of the company.

What are their strengths?

After the client meeting, the first goal is to analyse the company by looking at their capabilities and what is needed. An analysis is made of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (abbreviated known as SWOT). What I noticed right away is that, back in 2015, nobody knew of the fact that printing lenses was actually possible.

Ideas and focus area

The initial plan is to come up with lots of ideas and write them all down. These ideas can be sorted in different categories. As fashion and technology are merging, even back in 2015, this seemed like a great focus area and some concepts were chosen and examined.

Why footwear?

The pictures above show why footwear is a great topic for further investigations when it comes to 3D printing and transparency. Technology, wearables, fashion and a combination of them is getting more media coverage lately. Likewise, when you look at developments, there is a lot going on. Last but not least is the fact that I have lots of sneakers and I know a lot about them, which helps a lot because you know whether that ‘sneakercommunity’ might be interested in something like this or not at all.

Design brief overview

After a chosen topic, some sketches are made with initial ideas. The important element in this first phase is to not limit yourself but sketch whatever comes to your mind. Some ideas might be ridiculous or not even possible in real life, but you can always get to new ideas by doing this. Another important part is the design brief overview in which is explained what is done for the company. It outlines the deliverables and scope of the project including products, works, timing and the budget.

Second client meeting

A schedule is made and presented to the client. Once again it’s important to show the company why it’s essential for them to go for this idea. Likewise it was shown that there are transparent shoes on the market and also 3D printed sneakers. But a combination of both doesn’t exist.

Ideas and concepts

The second client meeting ends and you have been given permission to elaborate your idea. The first thing to do now is start sketching and come up with a huge amount of ideas on paper. After these sketches, three or four concepts are created. More of these sketches can be either found in the video below on this page or in by going to work > sketching.

Conceptualisation and research

A concept is chosen and elaborated on. The picture above shows how it could look like in real life, this is one step ahead modelling a shoe as it’s much easier and quicker to create this in Photoshop. After a chosen concept, the possibilities are being researched whether the 3D printed parts are strong or/and flexible enough. Once again this is only a part of that process, by all means if you want to know more about my projects you can always contact me.

Modelling

We have been taught to model with SolidWorks at our university, but unfortunately SolidWorks is mainly great for industrial products. After looking up and trying out different tools, Rhinoceros is the one I used the model these sneakers.

The final result

The shoes were modelled and ready to be printed. Luckily there was a great company which works like the AirBNB for 3D Printers called 3D Hubs, that could print my shoes. This is also where I did my internship later on. The shoes were not printed in the actual size as this would be too expensive, but the print already showed the possibilities of having a flexible 3D printed shoe with non-flexible transparent parts by Luxexcel.

Process presentation

The video above shows the process presentation. This was used for the final client meeting with a media player where I could control the speed or pause the video. Besides the fact that it looked better than standard presentations, it gave me full control and summarised what was done from the beginning on.

Looking back at this project, two years later, there are lots of things I would’ve done differently. Nowadays I know a lot more about 3D printing compared to when I was doing this project and I also own a 3D printer now. This would’ve saved me lots of time back then, but also allowing me to make several concepts and eventually print the shoes in full size. It’s funny to see that 3D printing and sneakers became more hot and were implemented by huge companies such as Nike, New Balance and Under Armour. If there’s anything else you would like to know about this project, don’t hesitate to contact me.