Although it may have quieted down substantially compared to the early days of MakerBot, the exploration of 3D printing in consumer applications has never been stronger.
While small companies such as print+ are testing 3D printing in distributed manufacturing sales models, larger companies with more substantial budgets are exploring how they can create new consumer experiences with products that make use of the on-demand nature that additive manufacturing provides.
More recently, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans – a creative-focused ocean conservation organization based in NYC – partnered up to develop an innovative footwear concept that demonstrates not only how the footwear industry can use 3D printing in their manufacturing processes, but also rethink how we can upcycle ocean plastic pollution.
The concept shoe consists of an upper made with ocean plastic content and a 3D-printed midsole made from recycled polyester and gillnets.
“The industry can’t afford to wait for directions any longer. Together with the network of Parley for the Oceans, we have started taking action and creating new sustainable materials and innovations for athletes,” explains Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group Executive Board member responsible for Global Brands. “The 3D-printed ocean plastic shoe midsole stands for how we can set new industry standards if we start questioning the reason of what we create. We want to bring everyone from the industry to the table and create sustainable solutions for big global problems.”
Selling a shoe with a 3D printed midsole is one thing, but a 3D printed shoe made from ocean waste that doesn’t look like something out of Waterworld? Now that’s impressive.