3D printed shoes aren’t a new idea. People have been making them since 2009 — back when Facebook was still cool, and the term “3D printing” was barely even part of the popular vernacular. But despite how long people have been exploring the idea of 3D printed footwear, nobody’s really managed to create a shoe that people might actually wear on a regular basis.
One reason for this is that the designers making 3D printed shoes almost always opt for a futuristic aesthetic rather than a timeless one. Therefore, the overwhelming majority of 3D printed shoes look far too ridiculous for any self-respecting adult to wear.
But it seems that trend might be changing. Burgeoning footwear upstart People Footwear makes a line of sneakers made with a 3D-printed mesh — and they actually look like normal shoes. At a distance, the company’s Stanley sneakers could easily be mistaken for a pair of Vans, and its Philips shoes look damn near identical to a set of Converse Chuck Taylors.
To be fair, the shoes aren’t built from start to finish inside of a 3D printer, but they do feature People Footwear’s proprietary Ezy-Brzy material for paneling, which is a durable 3D printed mesh designed to promote airflow. According to the company’s brief description, the use of 3D printers has allowed it to streamline the manufacturing process and reduce waste, which ultimately helps keeps shoe prices low. A pair of these kicks will only put you back about 60 bucks
Additive manufacturing probably isn’t going to overtake traditional shoe manufacturing processes anytime soon, but it’s definitely exciting to see a start-up like People Footwear using 3D printers to make a fully functional product — not just a prototype of one. Hopefully we’ll see more of this stuff in the future.