Wearable Tech Meets High Fashion: 3-D Printed High Heels
What are 3-D Printed High Heels?
Google Glass and LED clothing are just a few of the many cutting edge products that have become a part of the geek-chic wearable tech revolution. The creation of 3-D Printed High Heels is a collaborative effort between the East German shoe firm, Scherf Design, and Materialise, an innovative Belgian company whose amazing software allows for the creation of a truly customized object and who own and operate the world's first store dedicated to 3-D printed design. The software created by Materialise made the metal heel lightweight enough to be functional. The goal was to create a wearable, fashionable, metal high-heeled shoe. The process involved using a 3-maticSTL softare and its Lightweight Structures module.
Alternative manufacturing technologies
Lightweight Structures modules refer to alternative manufacturing technologies, which allow for the creation of lightweight shapes, which would otherwise be impossible or too costly to produce using traditional technologies. Part of the burgeoning Additive Manufacturing Industry (AM), the process optimizes designs by transforming them into lattice structures, which are then converted into lightweight components.
The results of this technology are truly incredible in wearable technology fashion and unlike anything that would be within the realm of possibility using conventional design software. Although the complexity of the metal heel's structure is evident, its beauty is as bold and captivating, as it is also strangely reserved. The honeycomb structure embedded within the heel renders it very strong and cabable of providing stable support to the wearer.
How did it all begin?
Headquartered in Cologne, Germany, Scherf Design has always been on the cutting edge of footwear innovation. Blending their expertise with Materialise affiliate, Layerwise, to create and manufacture a new shoe design was a project that took five months to complete. Scherf developed the outer heel and Materialise softwear created the internal honeycomb structure and curved metal heel. The final product was displayed at Euromold 2013, a highly successful and internationally recognized trade fair.
The 3-maticSTL software and its Lightweight Structures module imitates the random lightweight structures that appear in nature. It permits the multiplication of a single element structure within the volume of the heel while at the same time considering design specifications, a difficult accomplishment with any currently available software.
While the Additive Manufacturing industry has just begun, and no one can say for sure what the future of these alternative technologies will be, it seems evident that its many applications have only barely scratched the surface, already permeating the world of fashion and bio-medical engineering.
Time will tell, but in the meantime, in between time, want to print out a pair of new high-heeled shoes to wear to that party tomorrow night?
M Dee Dubroff
Fashion and Technology Blogger