Additivemanufacturing forShoe production 4.0

How 3D printing is revolutionizing the future of running. For a long time, all shoes of a model series were the same. The only exceptions were expensive, tailor-made special models for elite athletes. 

Now there is new innovation potential for shoe manufacturers: 3D printing from voxeljet enables the production of tailor-made shoes that could even offer consumers performance and comfort enhancing functions. Additive manufacturing processes, such as voxeljet‘s High Speed Sintering, pave the way for the additive shoe production of tomorrow through customized production and material development.

Polymer 3D printing for customized shoe components

The fact that such custom-made shoes can take individual foot shapes, body weights and stride lengths into account also offer a particular benefit for end-customers. From the manufacturer’s point of view, however, it is not just the customer benefits that speak in favor of the 3D Polymer High Speed Sintering (HSS) process. With HSS, almost all production parameters can be adjusted in order to enable more economical, faster, more environmentally friendly manufacturing processes and at the same time enable the tailoring of the process to different materials.

Hardly any product manager from the manufacturing industry is currently able to avoid the hype topic of „Lattice Structures“. These are abstract, CAD-generated grid designs that take nature as a model. These designs give products maximum stability and durability and create enormous material and weight savings. No wonder, then, that even market-leading sports shoe manufacturers have a great interest in additive manufacturing processes. With 3D-printed lattice structures, production costs can be reduced and, thanks to material savings, the manufacturing process also protects the environment. Non-sintered plastic can, depending on the process and material, be recycled and fed back into the production process.

Another additive manufacturing technique is Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF). In this method, a layer of molten plastic filament is applied as a strand and glued. The advantage of high speed sintering is the higher production speed, material diversity, constant layer times and thus easier thermal management and geometric freedom. In contrast to the FFF, the HSS does not require support structures to stabilize the printed components. The unprinted powder supports the components in the job box. This allows full utilization of the HSS job box.

In the HSS process, a thin layer of plastic powder, such as TPU, EVA or TPE is applied to a heated building platform. Subsequently, an inkjet print head moves across the platform and selectively applies an infrared light-absorbing ink to areas of the building area. Once completed, an infra-red light radiates onto the construction platform. The printed areas of the plastic powder absorb the heat, which causes them to sinter with the underlying layers.

Webinar: HSS 3D printing

In this workshop we will present our HSS technology in detail: From open source conception to scaling and production possibilities.

Watch Recording

Technical specifications of greyscale printing

  • Different degrees of hardness printable via ink input
  • Up to 6 gray levels possible
  • Grayscales variable regarding energy absorption depending on the material
  • Better edge sharpness compared to dithering
  • High level of detail
  • Higher part strength than sole dithering
  • Further combinations possible with dithering for even more variation
  • Smoother surfaces

Further Case Studies


Would you like to learn more? Then ask us. We will be pleased to help you.

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