The High Tech Society

3D Printed Shoes Hit the Runway, and the Streets


3D Printed Shoes Hit the Runway, and the Streets

For many people, 3D printing is a cool technology, but it is a technology of the future. The ability to quickly print off anything you like has been heavily documented in the news, but with the high cost of both materials and printers, this technology is neither feasible nor practical for the average consumer. With that in mind, it comes to a surprise to many to see more and more 3D printed shoes hitting the market. While many companies, such as Nike, are actually selling their shoes, others are designing fabulous creations specifically for runway models, where shoes can now easily match the often excessive styles flaunted on the runway.

Sports Shoes

While 3D technology affects fashion in that it allows for previously unimaginable shoes to be created quickly, it also affects the sport industry in previously unimaginable ways. Nike an Adidas are both applying 3D printing to their sports shoes including cleats to not only speed up manufacture, but also to speed up prototyping. For example, Adidas cut their team of prototype designers from 12 down to 2, while simultaneously cutting review and decision time from 14-21 days to 2-3 days! The changes, while nullifying a formerly important job, are quite simply phenomenal in terms of what they do for cost effectiveness and speed. Companies can now use a 3D printer to simply build a prototype from the ground up rather than painstakingly making it by hand.


Despite the already widespread use of 3D printing in the sports shoe industry, the process has become more popular in the fashion industry. While most of these 3D printed shoes are not up for sale yet, they’re on runways, with no real reasons not to be sold soon. Designers ranging from Alan Nguyen to Katrien Herdeywin are all experimenting with creating new, fantastical 3D printed shoes including heels. Hereywin is a PHD student and shoe design student who decided to create a range of shoes focused on nanotechnology, her shoes were actually printed and worn on the catwalk.
Alan Nguyen’s designs were commissioned by Freedom of Creation for FreshFiber to celebrate their mobile phone cases. The shoes are a unique design and actually quite visually appealing.

Marieka Ratsma designed and printed her 3D shoe to symbolize the juxtaposition of trees and skyscrapers in Boston. While she only has two printed shoes, they on the catwalk. Her shoes are made of painted polyamide.

Naim Josefi was nominated for Designs of the Year Fashion Award 2011 for his 3D printed shoes. They are made of Polyamide and were actually printed multiple times for use on the catwalk, as well as for photos. They’re probably also one of the most wearable and cool printed shoes on this list (for women).

Pierre Renaux created his 3D heels as a symbolism of the mesh between man and machine. His heels are currently being used on the catwalk, although they look a little hard to walk in.

Manuel Vogel created a 3d printed shoe with the addition of a clear plastic strap. These look like standard pumps but are a little different in that the sides aren’t flexible. They also look like they could be straight out of a futuristic movie. The design is meant as a complement to bones, and they certainly look it.

Pauline van Dogen has a line of simplistic 3D printed shoes that look like something that might be worn on the street or to a party. While much more toned down than many of the other shoes on this list, they show that art doesn’t have to be extreme.

At the moment, there are literally thousands of artists making 3D printed shoes and many of them are gearing their shoes towards real markets. Take a look at some of the images below to get an idea of what the future is bringing to the world of shoes.