Shoes to masterpieces thanks to 3D printing technologies
For several years, fashion designers from all over the world are shifting their creativity to the world of footwear and sometimes the functional aspect of the shoe is exceeded and distorted by shapes and materials that make it more like a real sculpture, a masterpiece.
This is the context in which 3D printing and designing are looking for their place. In fact, when an artist is dealing with the need to shape an unique and particular idea, the 3D technology provides all the tools to prototype it, fix it and finally produce it.
Therefore, some designers who grasped this opportunity, managed to create footwear, but also fashion accessories, that are an explosion of creativity.
Francis Bitonti and his “Mutatio” shoes
One of the artists who are part of this “creative strand” is definitely Francis Bitonti that, with United Nude & 3D Systems, has launched a collection of shoes special indeed.
Although in New York you can find pretty much everything weird, Bitonti had been able to grab upon himself the attention of media joining several 3D printing conferences and having the honor to wear one of his creations in 3D to the beautiful Dita Von Teese.
But, a fashion designer is firstly and foremost a designer, and as every designer is working on a software that must be able to communicate effectively with him and give an answer to his creativity. For this reason Bitonti, like others, contributes to the development of the software he uses.
“My design process is a collaboration with the AI”
The collection “Mutatio” is a combination of traditional leather with heels and wedges printed in nylon with the SLS 3D technology and then gold-plated. It is now available to the general public at the store in Bond Street, New York, of United Nude, a well known brand for the world of 3D printing.
The collaboration between 3D Systems and United Nude is well-founded, in fact in the past it made possible for designers and architects such as Zaha Hadid, Ben van Berkel, Fernando Romero, Michael Young and Ross Lovegrove to give birth to collections of shoes designed and printed in 3D where comfort “willingly gives step” to the design.
The shoes of the collection “Mutatio” are perhaps more realistically wearable, and this way is heading even 3D Systems, that has set itself the objective of supporting designers like Bitonti to bring 3D technology to a wider audience.
Cristina Franceschini: the future of Italian footwear with 3D printing
Directly from Fermo, one of the most important districts of Italian footwear, also cradle of Della Valle’s Tod’s, it comes the young designer Cristina Franceschini.
Some of her works are exhibited in the contemporary section of Footwear Museum of Fermo. Her peculiarity? She has been able to leverage the technology of 3D design and 3D printing for prototyping her shoes models.
This is a sector with an high potential of growth, but it must guarantee designers the possibility to use materials that are suitable to make the shoe wearable and do not be prohibitively expensive. The use of a 3D printer provides the right all the necessary and Franceschini was able to exploit every advantage of it.
The solution to print wearable prototypes was to use a stiletto heel in normal steel and develop around it an intricate nylon cover printed in 3D. The finish is obtained using a process that applies the zinc powder to the plastic by using the high pressure.
“The end result is perfect,” says Cristina. “It looks like metal, but it’s cheaper and at the same time, it is extremely lightweight. The best thing is that with 3D printing I can produce exactly the quantity I want, even just one piece, and this is a thing that has never been possible before.”