A new kind of elastic filament called Filaflex is enabling increasingly complex 3D-printed designs such as the Sneakerbot II shoes.
3D printing has has already set alight a huge community of entrepreneurs who have used the technology to create print-on-demand medical supplies and even food, and the technology is constantly improving, whether its the printing process itself or the material that can be used. A new kind of elastic filament called Filaflex is enabling more complex designs such as the Sneakerbot II 3D-printed shoes.
Designed by Ignacio Garcia, founder of the Spain-based 3D printers Recreus which distributes Filaflex, the footwear is created in just two pieces — the tongue and the high-top base. The sneakers are made possible with Filaflex 1.75mm, an elastic plastic that means that the shoes can be folded and scrunched but still retain their shape. Taking inspiration from futuristic fashions seen on films such as Back to the Future, the shoes incorporate 3D printing aesthetics and are actually more comfortable to wear than they look, according to their creator, and the softness of the material can be altered through the printer settings. The Filaflex filament can be purchased from Recreus for EUR 22.99 a roll, and the files are available for free from Thingiverse.
Fashion is an industry that has long benefitted from customization and crowdsourcing and — since trends come and go — it is also suited to the instant nature of 3D printing. While innovators such as Fabrican Ltd are already making spray-on clothing a reality, are there other ways to help consumers manufacture the fashions they wear?