EnvisionTEC‘s E-Shore A material for footwear is ready for beta testing on the company’s Perfactory line of 3D printers, a family of printers that is considered one of the most reliable in the world, now in its fourth generation.
The company’s material scientists have been developing 3D printers and materials for 15 years. The EnvisionTEC materials team, headed by 3D printing chemistry expert Dr. Vadim Nazarov, has been hard at work on this material for a while and they’re putting it through the paces for final release now. Aside from being waterproof, E-Shore A is durable and comfortable. It also has a stable viscosity and prints beautifully. A buzz about the idea of 3D printed footwear, custom or not, has been riveting the masses for a while now, but the consumer marketplace still has very little actual footwear to show for it.
3D printed Nike sneakers (football cleats) first appeared on the cover of Manufacturing Engineering magazine way back in June 2013. At the time, Nike boasted they were the “the sport’s first 3D-printed plate” and explained how 3D printing allowed for the creation of shapes “not possible in traditional manufacturing processes.”
That same year, New Balance publicly promoted the use of a pair of custom 3D printed plates for a professional runner, Jack Bolas. It’s been a fun four years since then, filled with lots of hype-filled news stories about 3D printed kicks. If you’re a consumer who has actually been waiting for these things, you may be tempted to toss 3D printed shoes into a dustbin with flying cars.
But the truth is, they are coming. 3D printing is this amazing combustion of mechanical, electronic, optical and software engineering, as well as material science. As such, it takes time for all this manufacturing technology to be optimized to work together for specific tasks — way more time than it takes for, say, consumer technology.