MIT’s experimental 3D-printed sneaker shape-shifts to your foot

By Alyssa
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

product-fe7-quartz

 

Byline: Marc Bain

MIT_feature

At the moment, 3D printing is still mostly about experimentation. While it hasn’t quite taken off to revolutionize the way consumer products are made just yet, it does offer a lot of exciting, innovative ideas, especially in the realm of sneakers.

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, a group focused on research into “active” materials, is working in collaboration with product designers Christophe Guberan and Carlo Clopath on one of the most unique footwear possibilities involving 3D printing: It’s a shoe that can be “programmed” to match the contours of your foot.

Their Minimal Shoe, as they’ve dubbed it, is created in a unique process. They stretch out a textile and then 3D-print lines of plastic in varying layers and thicknesses on it—essentially, the structure of the shoe-to-be. Next they cut out the portions of the textile they want. Released from the original stretch, the textile will “jump” into a new shape according to the arrangement of the 3D-printed lines left on it. Hypothetically, you could either custom print a shoe for each wearer with just a few lines of extruded plastic, or you could make a nearly one-size-fits-all shoe, since the stretchy textile will conform to any given shape.

MIT_inline

Skylar Tibbits, one of the directors of the lab and a research scientist in MIT’s architecture department, tells Quartz they’re investigating both possibilities, and that the “morphability” of the textile could make for a more comfortable and adaptable type of performance footwear.

The whole shoe wouldn’t have to be created with this method either. Just the upper could be, or portions of it, and then it could be attached to a more traditional sole. It’s also relatively easy to make, compared to 3D printing an entire sneaker.

“Imagine using active materials to produce one-size-fits-all shoes, adaptive fit, and self-forming manufacturing processes,” a statement by the lab says. “This technique would radically transform the production of footwear forever.

Although the shoe is still a work in progress, Tibbits told The Creator’s Project that a large sportswear company is currently interested in the process, though he isn’t certain what might come of it.

Actually, of all the consumer-goods industries exploring uses of 3D printing and customizable textiles, sneaker makers could well be among the first to bring products to a mass market. Adidas has already introduced a 3D-printed midsole that could give every customer the perfect fit, and Nike’s COO recently expressed his confidence that we’ll soon be able to 3D-print Nike sneakers at home or the nearby Nike store. Both have also shown an interest in finding new ways of manufacturing lightweight textiles that can stretch and contour to the wearer’s foot, as in the knit uppers that have been so popular for both.

The Self-Assembly Lab is working on other projects too, including materials that can transform in response to outside stimuli. So, for instance, something like sneaker laces that could tighten from heat or the energy of a small battery. Currently it’s collaborating with Airbus on creating a dynamic carbon-fiber component for the company’s airplane engines.

The Minimal Shoe in particular came about when the lab received an invite to design footwear for the “Life on Foot” exhibition at the Design Museum in London.

To discuss this and other topics about the future of technology, finance, life sciences and more, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

The Shocking Secret of Fashion Consumers

By Lauriane
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

There’s a secret held by every consumer that is nearly unknown to brands. It’s the shocking truth that almost every fashion house and sport products company ignores. Because of the blindfold that they have chosen to wear, they have lost billions of dollars in potential revenue. Each day, individuals look less and less at what a brand is trying to sell them and, instead, focus on their own curated tastes. Every person has their favorite pair of jeans, their most comfortable pair of shoes, and their go-to t-shirt.
As individuals, we have collectively decided what will be our “look” and what we prefer to wear on a daily basis. This has resulted one simple truth: Consumers do not shop from a single brand.

Consider this; one male consumer might wear the following outfit:
• Chuck Taylor low-tops from Converse
• 501 jeans from Levi’s
• Tee shirt from H&M

Another male consumer may wear a similar outfit to achieve an entirely different look:
• Chuck Taylor low-tops from Converse
• 511 slim fit jeans from Levi’s
• Slim fit dress shirt from Calvin Klein
• Ludlow blazer from J. Crew

But the sad fact is that these brands may never share consumer data, nor may they ever try to cooperate in any way in order to increase their respective sales figures. The consumer has moved to a true omnichannel model where they have created their own personal consumer “brand”, with their unique set of preferences and data, and are expecting traditional corporate brands to meet their needs. Unfortunately, the modern fashion industry simply isn’t set up to meet these expectations.

Product Development

iStock_000049966562_XXXLarge
If these brands are going to change, and start embracing this new consumer model, they need to start at the beginning; with the product development process. Today, fashion companies focus on creating a single product that can reach as many different consumers as possible. In the future, however, customers will be expecting product that they can tailor to their own specific tastes. Therefore, companies who are eager to differentiate themselves are now shifting to tools and processes that allow for easy product customization. This is especially true in the footwear industry where each runner has a specific stride, foot strike, and comfort preference.
Tools are now starting to arrive that will allow footwear to be designed so that it can be easily customized at the point of sale. The next step would be to allow customization, of color and material, that might allow a pair of shoes to better coordinate with the pants from another brand being worn by the consumer. Here again, this may require brands to cooperate in their design approach to the consumer.

Changing Face of Retail

3DEXCITE_DELTASCAN_3

Traditionally, companies have drawn a sharp division between their online stores and their brick and mortar counterparts; each selling product using completely different methods. At brick and mortar retail, the consumer is free to browse a small, fixed collection of products and soak in the brand identity. Online however, the consumer has to give up much of the brand identity, but are given access to a much larger, searchable set of inventory.
Looking forward however, some companies are breaking out of this model and mixing the best of the online experience with the best of brick and mortar. These companies are starting to bring the online experience into stores so that, while consumers may be able to browse key items and colors in store, they have access to the entire online inventory at the same time. They can also use these tools to build outfits, predict fit, and customize products; perhaps even customizing the product directly in the store. Finally, consumer preferences can be captured by these digital devices and fed directly back to the product teams via analytics built into modern PLM systems. But what’s still missing is the ability for the consumer to build a virtual closet of all their favorite products, regardless of brand, and have it travel with them from store to store; whether that store be physical or online.

Consumer Customization

EXP3 Mobile Assortment Exp 000

© Julien Fournié

Product customization is nothing new; especially in footwear. Many of the major footwear brands have offered customization for years: Adidas, Nike , and New Balance all offer online product customization. But this is typically just color and material customization and doesn’t allow for changes to fit or cushioning. Some brands, such as New Balance, are just starting to use modern 3D tools to provide customized outsoles to the elite athletes and, eventually, consumers. Once again, however, this begs the question of customization across brands. Will I be able to print the authentic Vans checkerboard pattern on my Gap t-shirt? Will I be able to customize the color of my 3D printed New Balance outsole to coordinate with my faded Levi’s 501s? Probably not. But the marketplace is changing and what was unthinkable in the past, may just become commonplace in the future.

Want to know more about how to engage consumers in the ultimate personalized product and purchase experience?

How a leading Furniture company can implement design-for-cost strategies and launch products faster?

By Lauriane
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+

Nowy Styl Group is a European leader in comprehensive furniture solutions and the third largest manufacturer of office furniture in Europe. They have selected “My Product Portfolio”, a Dassault Systèmes industry solution experience, to design, develop and deliver more innovative products and accelerate new product introductions.

nowy-styl-group
“Dassault Systèmes’ industry solution experience helps our technical departments, personnel, partners and suppliers better communicate and monitor and detect issues early in the development process to optimize product quality. These capabilities reduce development and manufacturing time and costs and improve our time to market.” said Tomasz Bardzik, CTO Nowy Styl Group.

Karai_horizontal

To understand how Nowy Styl Group can implement design-for-cost strategies and launch products faster and in compliance with sustainability targets and safety norms, Watch the video and Listen to Tomasz Bardzik, CTO of Nowy Styl Group

Staatsoper2_01

Discover More

Read the Full Press Release

Watch the video and Listen to Tomasz Bardzik, CTO of Nowy Styl Group

Discover more about “My Product Portfolio” Industry Solution Experience

Find more about Dassault Systèmes’ in the Consumer Goods & Retail industry

 



Page 1 of 212