I'm not a "shoe" person, though I understand why one would have an obsession with the mound of leather and rubber we put on our feet. When a person wears a good pair of shoes, they can look great and run faster. That's why Nike invests so much in technology to help athletes perform better, but 3D printers may one day take that job from them.
A French engineer and designer by the name of Luc Fusaro created a pair of running shoes with a 3D printer as part of his final project for a masters degree at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College of London. What makes these shoes so special beyond them being made by a 3D printer? Fusaro claims that these shoes can increase an athlete's performance by 3.5 percent. It may seem small, but that's a huge advantage in the world of competitive athletics.
So how did Fusaro do it? He says that the current model of creating custom shoes for athletes only benefits the best of the best with mass production shoes that use standard technologies that have been in place for years. Fusaro's method scans the athlete's foot and cuts out a shoe that's perfect for them.
Unfortunately, the shoe isn't perfect just yet. Fusaro says that he is currently in the process of fine tuning the shoe for maximum comfort and flexibility. The current shoe's upper end is still too stiff to offer any real competitive advantage.
Regardless, this is another huge win for 3D printers. They open up a new avenue for all kinds of innovations in every field imaginable. You're already aware of how 3D printers might soon be able to create organs for patients awaiting transplants, but they are also helping shake up the traditional model of buying special products at ridiculous prices. With 3D printers, you just have to buy the printer and the material to make these things yourself. We really might see a future where one downloads cars, boats, toys and everything else to make them at home.