Could shopping for shoes possibly become a thing of the past? Perhaps, if more consumers start choosing to get their footwear 3-D printed.
Feetz, a San Diego start-up, is working to make it possible for people to buy customized footwear by printing shoes based on their specifications.
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The plan is for a customer to snap three pictures of each foot from different angles and send the images to Feetz. The company would enter the images into specialized software that would allow a shoe for each foot to be printed. The customer would receive the shoes in seven days.
Shoemaking is perfect for the technology because printing shoes allows for extreme customization, according to Lucy Beard, the founder and CEO of Feetz.
"So many people have problems because one foot is bigger than the other or the shoes just don't fit right," she said at the Inside 3-D Printing Conference in New York. "But if you print a shoe just for that foot, it's going to be so comfortable, you're not going to want to take it off."
Beard said her short-term target consumers are those with orthopedic problems, who would benefit the most from customized shoes.
"I want to solve that need and that pain for those people," she said. "Three-D-printing shoes for them is really a simple solution that could solve a lot of their problems."
In the consumer market, 3-D printing has mostly been used to create small objects: trinkets, phone cases and jewelry. But as printers become capable of using more materials, she said, the machines can print a wider variety of products.
The technology has already started to be adopted by some in the shoe industry, according to Beard.