Today, at the same exact time of the Moon landing (20.17 UTC) that, exactly 50 years ago, gave humans the first glimpse into a what the future of space colonization could be, a collaboration between NYC based companies Zellerfeld and Querencia Studio is taking its own first, small step into the market by launching a very limited edition of their Earth Suit Shoe, a fully 3D printed shoe.
While Querencia Studio and it’s lead designer Kate Walz created the Design, the newly formed 3D printing company Zellerfeld Inc. will use their technology to print the shoes. The technology behind it was developed by Cornelius Schmitt and Peter Graeff, who have invested the last 3 years in a basement developing a specialized filament-extrusion-based 3D printer for footwear.
“Everything in the Earth Shoe is printed in one go. Upper, Sole, everything. I’ve tested and worn them for over a year now: it is durable and comfortable,” Schmitt revealed to 3dpbm. The technology combines a tough sole and softer upper, enabling different flexibility and softness through geometry. “Nobody in the world can print materials to be this soft,” he says.
The Earth Shoe could be the first of several models. It was created as a tribute to the Moon landing – and its impact on our own planet – and it seems proper that it launches on this event’s anniversary. “Just as the moon landing we want to set new standards in many ways. Cornelius says. “[Now] We want to honor the 50th anniversary of the Moon landing, so we will start preorders of the first, very limited edition of exactly 50 pairs, in the same exact second that the Moon landing took place. As you can see, treads and many design parts are reminiscent of this truly humanity-changing event.”
Stepping into the market
Like the Apollo 11 mission, Cornelius has put a lot of work into this project to get closer and closer to a product launch. His team has grown to include Adidas engineers (who developed the fit for the Yeezys) and the company moved from Schmitt’s basement in Germany to Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, raised some funds and installed 30 43d printers at the Canvas Store of Querencia Studio, which specializes in a more sustainable fashion.
“The collaboration is especially interesting for us,” Schmitt explains. “Querencia and its store, The Canvas, are all about sustainability. We also think that we need to rethink the whole system, which is why all our shoes will be 100% recyclable. We see the future of printing moving away from the traditional business model where the companies win with the largest production capacities. With upfront costs falling through printing, every designer can be his or her own brand. Much like in the software industry. Such a free market won’t have to be based on a planned economy, where the marketing department decides which styles will be produced, thus leading to much more beautiful looking products.”
Get you fully 3D printed shoe
Upon reservation, you will receive an email with details on the Zellerfeld customization process which will take place at The Canvas by Querencia, 132 Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. Given the nature of this process, it requires the individual to be present for a thirty-minute consulting session with the Zellerfeld team. After scans are made, custom footwear will be printed on-site and ready within 48 hours. Consulting appointments will begin in the fall and winter of 2019/2020. Every Shoe will be a unique custom product, soles will be printed with the impression of the first moon step, by astronaut Neil Armstrong.
Starting with Janne Kyttnanen in the 1990s, many designers have tried to go down this lane with 3D printing and especially with shoes. So there is no guarantee that this time the mass-customization-through-extrusion-3D-printing-business-model will finally work. However, since the first ideas were presented, both the technology and the designs for 3D printed shoes have continued to improve, and more and more companies are investing in it. If Zellerfeld can truly deliver on a more sustainable, affordable and at the same time comfortable and elegant looking product, than 20.17 UTC, 2019, may truly become a memorable date for a new small step for man and a new giant leap for mankind.