Creating a “market of one” times a million
For people with foot abnormalities, finding the right pair of shoes has long required a series of compromises: settling for shoes that don’t fit, are too expensive, or look plain unattractive. Footprint 3D’s founders are taking these problems head-on. They’re developing a more supportive footbed that correctly aligns joints and ligaments and alleviates pain. And they’re creating designs that compete aesthetically – and economically – with the world’s leading brands.
How do they do it? Footprint 3D first scans a person’s feet, then feeds the 3D data into modeling software to produce custom footbed designs. By enhancing these models with structures formed by a set of algorithms, the files are then printed through a process known as selective laser sintering and assembled with a unique upper comprised of advanced textiles. The result is a single pair of shoes designed and made for a single individual – the ultimate market of one.
Footprint 3D’s rapid manufacturing accomplishes more than just a custom fit; it eliminates the waste caused by traditional manufacturing, including excess molds, tools, and scrap. They also use materials much more environmentally friendly than EVA, the most common shoe midsole foam that can last up to 1,000 years in a landfill.
The perfect blend of form and function
Because everyone’s feet are different, Footprint 3D’s technology needs to create organic forms with infinite possibilities. The designers rely on the modeling power of Autodesk Fusion 360 and Meshmixer – and selective laser sintering printing techniques – to give physical shape to their 3D scans. Running these complex models are The ThinkStation P410 and the ThinkPad P70 and P50 mobile workstations, which are helping Footprint 3D print its first prototypes this year.
"The speed of growth in the world of software and manufacturing has put Footprint in a position that would have been impossible to imagine a few short years ago."