Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world.
Marilyn Monroe is right, but only half right, because this statement applies to all of us. When it comes to footwear, majority of us would be attracted by the aesthetic design first, then followed by trial to check whether we’re feeling comfortable after wearing the shoe.
Some might have different considerations such as brand, trendiness, or even some other factors, but the trigger point to all this is always the shoe design. When was the last time you bought shoes without looking at the design?
With status, identity and images come into place, no one would want to wear something that doesn’t represent themselves. This is a typical consumer purchasing process.
Why Aesthetic Design Is Important?
Imagine this, you’re walking into a footwear retail store with your girlfriend, and she is looking for a pair of sneakers, which she doesn’t have an idea how exactly that look like, yet.
You both walk through dozens of stores, took a break at ChaTime, and continued shopping.
After a whopping 5 hours, you caught a glimpse of shimmering light from her eyes, she said “Hey that sneaker looks good!”
You were happy, grateful and excited, not before long another shocking news hit you – “It doesn’t feel too comfortable. Let’s move, there is nothing more to see here.”
This is my real life experience and I know many of us might face the same scenario. So how does this impact shoemakers?
If the shoe is not designed aesthetically enough, it won’t pique interest of people. What’s more, if it is too aesthetically designed but human ergonomics is ignored, you can’t sell either.
How Nike used 3D Printing To Face This Challenge.
Nike Innovation Director – Shane Kohatsu told Financial Times this:
Within six months we were able to go through 12 rounds of prototype iterations that we fully tested, and ultimately we were able to make super dramatic improvements to our products.
This is how Nike & Adidas uses 3D printing to conduct design experiments, to fully understand how to integrate between design elements, ergonomics and functionality. Take, for example, Nike Vapor Leash Talon was designed to help the nation’s top football athletes maintain their drive stance longer as they train for and compete in the 40-yard dash. Adidas was reported at bringing down the typical prototyping duration from four to six weeks down to two days.
The best thing about 3D printing is it allows you to print and test on demand, this speeds up the traditional design and manufacturing process by leaps and bounds.
Our Own 3D Printed Shoe.
We actually designed and printed a “leather” shoe on our own, it was printed via Polyjet with a combination of rubber and rigid materials to control the shore value (a.k.a rubber hardness).
Look at the fine surface texture. It was printed in a go, no assembly, no gluing.
As of now, we’re not there yet in terms of directly 3D printing the shoe for daily use, yet. But if we’re talking about design iterations and form, fit study, then yes, 3D printing is a very good fit for R&D companies.