For some people, seven months of product design is barely enough time to build a single feature. But Dutch product designer Philippe Holthuizen managed to disrupt the footwear industry with his 3D printed mens shoes in that time frame. Phillippe was able to achieve a lot in design and development from styles to texture using his 3D CAD skills and background in shoe designing. But his bottom line goal is pretty much the same as other 3D print product designers; to become part of the disruption wave. He wants to share to the community the materials he uses and his processes that will help other designers and eventually help in the push to get the industry to the tipping point. Learn more of Philippe’s design and marketing concepts and how he plans to keep on disrupting.
I’m surprised and excited by what I’m learning from a lot of our new guests this year. We have some great guests and this is another one that I’m just so impressed with. We’ve got Philippe Holthuizen and his company FUSED Footwear. He’s just got some really cool men’s shoes going on here. We don’t see a lot of men’s shoes that often. We see a lot of this stuff in fashion going on. The market is bigger for women so evidently people are headed in there. We just don’t see that so often in the men’s, but here he’s headed into men’s shoes and done such a great way of made-to-order 3D printed custom shoes. We heard this from Lucy Beard. Conventional shoes are made with so many pieces and parts. Mine are always falling apart and stuff are just happening, but these shoes are made in one piece. I couldn’t believe it. The quality of the designs and the look of the materials, you’re all going to want to look at these images and get the links to his site. I’m just so excited about it. Obviously, this is something you want to look at.
This is great because here’s someone who started designing specifically for 3D printed shoes seven months ago, and he’s made such progress that he’s on the cusp of a whole business on it right now. He’s got a website. He’s got shopping. He’s got ways to order it. That is a lot of progress made in a really short period of time. That’s why I was really excited to get him on to really talk about his process and what he’s done and what has informed his choices that he’s made. He’s getting ready to disrupt that industry. Let’s go to the interview. I know we’re going to have a lot to talk a lot after.
Listen to the podcast here:
Design Challenge Accepted: 3D Printed Mens Shoes with Philippe Holthuizen from FUSED Footwear
Hi, Philippe. We are so excited to talk footwear with you. You reached out to me after our episode with Danit Peleg on the fashion. When I saw your shoes I was blown away.
Thank you. That’s a really awesome compliment.
How long have you been working on getting it to that level?
I started this process in May 2017.
You didn’t just start. You had a lot of skills before this. Tell us a little bit about really how you had skills and how you turned to 3D printing.
I’m a Dutch. I’m a product designer. Initially I studied to be a car designer, but I decided that being a car designer you have to be very competitive so it doesn’t leave much space for social life, and that really wasn’t me. I just went back to Amsterdam and there I did various design jobs, anything from graphic design to architectural visualizations for about six years. Then the chance came along to become a footwear designer at a Dutch company in China, United Nude. They hired me specifically because I had a lot of 3D CAD skills. Those are in great demand but they’re not that common to have within the footwear industry.
We did an episode with Lucy Beard of Feetz. It’s been one of the bigger problems, getting people who design shoes. It’s an old world craft and so getting people with good design skills in shoes doesn’t translate well and they’re not all that keen and excited about the technology as she is. She hasn’t had a really great match, but you had both already so that’s really cool and really interesting.
I had a great time there. We did a lot of very special shoes. They were doing a lot of collaborations with Iris van Herpen who is also very much involved with 3D printing. We did some very special shoes collaborations with huge architects. We even had a shoe with Zaha Hadid. All of their shoes were not traditional shoes. There was a lot of stuff that was first 3D printed then sanded then cast into other materials, quite a few carbon fiber parts. We even did some dip molding, so very strange things within the footwear industry. Basically, that’s where I learned so much to do CAD and footwear.
When did you start FUSED Footwear?
Basically, that is this process for the last seven months.
You just went out on your own and started doing this?
Yes, just before this idea to startup where we were trying to develop orthopedic sandals. That didn’t go completely as planned but that did introduce me to a much deeper level to 3D printing. That’s what made me realize, “This is now possible and I want to go and try it.”
Tell us a little bit about this goal. Are you trying to make them so that they come just straight off the machine and people wear them? They would print them themselves or more complicated than that?
Yes. The only reason I can do this is at the moment 3D printing, especially the home 3D printers are now evolved so far with the flexible filaments, that the material is strong enough to make shoes with. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Flexible filaments in themselves are incredibly difficult to print with and that’s also why they haven’t really found a foothold yet I think in the big markets. They’re also an amazing material when you do learn to work with them. I’m printing them very slowly at speeds that, for the home printing community, they would be very impatient with it. Most people print between 60 to 100 millimeters per second. I print at about 50 millimeters per second. To print a shoe takes between ten and twenty hours.
That’s still not bad. That still seems pretty reasonable to me. I would imagine doing this, you’ve got a print firm set up so you can do many shoes at once.
Yes, that would be the idea. Currently, I only have one printer. I’ve only been able to wear shoes myself that I’d printed since about September.
You really started to further along in the learning curve because you had so much of this background in shoes already, construction methods and design process in CAD. You’re really just working on making it work in the 3D print side of it. To say that you only did it over that time, you really had a long learning curve before that.
Also, the great thing about this is, and that goes for any product designer I think, especially if you’re doing things that have to conform to bodies having a 3D printer in the office, you just design it and you can try it on the next day. That makes for such a fast iteration process. When you will go into China, you will go in there to check prototypes. If anything was wrong, you would have to come back in three months to check the new prototype.
Yes, definitely or get photos or just like what happened to us. They shipped it without sending us all the photos because their vacation was coming up so they shipped it anyway. We get it and it’s all wrong. It was just a whole waste of shipping and time. That happens. You’re right, absolutely. It’s an amazing iterative ability that we’ve gotten from having a 3D printer right here in the office.
That’s a really big part of it. Another big part of it for me is that I’m printing them really roughly. I’m printing with half a millimeter layer height with a very big nozzle as well. That has its advantages that first of all, I can print a lot quicker, and also you have the layer adhesion becomes a lot better because you have a lot more surface between the layers that actually is adhered.
Are you doing a lot of post-processing because they look amazing?
No. There’s very little post-processing. That’s also a conscious choice. The footwear industry at the moment, especially if you look at sneakers, it’s not a great industry. There’s a lot of mass production in China and other low-wage countries. There are a lot of toxic materials that are being made. Once you have a pair of shoes, they’re very hard to recycle. With my shoes, I’m also a little bit lazy, so having a shoe that is one piece all made by the printer that has very little post-processing is good for a lazy person, but it’s also very good for recycling. Basically once you’re done with my shoes, the plan is that you can send them back to me, you get 20% discount on a new pair and I throw the shoes that you’ve had in a shredder and I can make new filament from them.
Is the shoe entirely one piece or is there any inner cushioning or lining that you’ve put in them?
The current shoes are entirely one piece. I’ve considered putting a lining in, like an insole. I’ve shied away from that so far because at the moment it’s not needed. The market will also help tell me if it’s needed or not.
I think it’s brilliant to be able to figure out a method to print the entire shoe in one print. I know other people that are making shoes that are either fully or partially 3D printed are making them in pieces and there’s some amount of labor in putting them together. I’m talking about more than just adding laces. They’re actually putting a lining in and maybe an insole and things like that. I’m sure there’s a market for a shoe all made at once. We all know of Crocs and things like that. The design is not nice, but in terms of similarity of one piece and of materials, I think there is some similarity but these designs are much nicer.
Thank you. That’s really much appreciated. That is hopefully one of the strongest selling points. Also keep in mind that Crocs in the end are still a mass-produced product. They are one piece, but they are one piece so that they can easily be mass produced.
Have you gotten far enough along to think about the different sizes of shoes that you would offer or is it going to be custom-fit? What have you been thinking about there?
I had a good look at international sizing systems. I did not initially want to do made-to-measure. I actually spoke with Lucy from Feetz and we had a good couple of talks about what the shoes should be. They have this wonderful app where you can take photos and then they have a big AI system behind it that does all the measuring and creates the last that would fit the shoes. I don’t have those resources. In the end, I decided to go with the Korean system which has five millimeter increments, and that is then translated to the European and the US systems. On my website, you can get sizes in basically US whole and half sizes, and that directly translates to five millimeter increments. If you have sports shoes from the big brands and you have a fitting size there, then that same size should work with my shoes.
There shouldn’t be any big effort. We actually have a sibling who has two sizes, one foot one size and one foot the other. There really is no big deal for you to do that because they’re not both printed together. That’s really great for someone who has that issue. Most of us know our shoe sizes pretty well. It is a problem though just thinking about this that we bought some Kickstarter Wiivv flip-flops. You have to scan your foot in the whole process. They send us an email months ago and we still haven’t done that because it’s an effort. It’s a separate where if I just type in and say, “Here’s my shoe size,” that would have been a lot easier for me. I probably would have been just fine because my foot is not incredibly difficult to fit. I think there’s an amount of ease of that that just makes it a little simpler to order and less complex, less steps in the ordering process, and more fun in the, “What do you want to wear? What kind do you want?”
Also once you have a pair of my shoes, and suppose they’re not fitting exactly right, then it’s easy to make adjustments. The thing is, if you buy online, it’s very hard to have that first fit and know how it will feel. Once you have that first pair of shoes, then I can make adjustments for you much more easily.
You can have a feedback loop. I want to try a pair of these shoes. They’re very cool-looking. There are some styles here that are very much me because I’m the type of guy that I don’t like laces in general. I want shoes I can just slip on. I’ve gotten accustomed to wearing some of those certain version of Skechers that are these slip-on shoes. It’s just really easy to kick on and kick off. Your Smooth Sparks LOW is probably going to work for me. The other interesting thing that I have, I know you’re not doing custom stuff, but I have a unique situation in that my left foot I completely ruptured my Achilles tendon ten years ago and had that surgery to repair it. When a shoe comes up too high up the back of my heel, it irritates and causes me pain but only on that one heel. What’s interesting to me is I’m sure if I needed to cut away part of your shoe, but I wonder in the future if I give you some measurements if you could actually print it so it would accommodate my need.
Most likely I could. There is a cobbler here in Hong Kong who actually just installed a foot scanning system. I also work together with him. You could also find somebody who can scan your feet in your area and if you send me 3D files of your feet, I should be able to accommodate you.
You had a photo on Instagram that looks incredible. It’s obviously FUSED Footwear and it’s a picture of two what appear to be black shoes that have laces on them, and one of them has some linear elements that are running diagonally more along the length of the shoe. Are each of those shoes made in the same way as one big piece?
That design, especially of the one with the linear elements, it almost looks like stitched lines of leather. You talk about printing this with half a millimeter layer height. I would expect this whole thing to look like a barcode or something, but it really looks pretty smooth.
That’s another fun thing about how we judge shoes. If we go to a store when we buy a pair of shoes, then we pick it up and we hold it at about 50 centimeters from our face and we can see a lot of details. Once you put shoes on your feet, it’s a lot further away and all those details disappear and what you have is more of a big unit that you look at. At that distance, with these shoes, it does look a lot like leather and it also actually creases a little bit like leather. It ages like leather.
That sounds so interesting. It’s really quite something. We know Lucy and we’ve interviewed her a couple of times. I love what she’s doing with her company and the exploits that they’re doing. They’re doing some specific things and I think doing a tremendous job with it. I’m really impressed with how much you’ve been able to achieve in a very short period of time in terms of design and development of so many different styles of shoe and great textures too. Maybe you haven’t gone as far into developing some of the other aspects that I think Lucy and her team are doing, there may be a great synergy between the two of you. Even so, I really applaud what you’ve done on the design side. You can definitely tell you’re a designer.
It served you well that you have an actual shoe design background because you can see where you understand that fit around your foot. I wouldn’t’ say that you’ve imitated leather lines, but you’ve created them because people like them. It’s a stylistic choice that is made. Not everyone wants to wear futuristic plastic shoes. They’re happy with the recycled, they’re happy with the comfort fit, but they don’t necessarily need it to look like that. This is my issue. This is why I haven’t personally ordered 3D printed shoes yet, and I keep saying I should because I’m on stage talking about it all the time. I should have a pair of shoes. It’s that I like open toes and I like to show off my toe nail pedicure, I like to have it lacey. It’s the stylistic choice that’s extremely important to me not, “I’m wearing something that is technologically savvy and cool.” That’s a purpose but that’s not my purpose. I still at the end of the day also need to be comfortable. How do they feel when you’ve got them on your feet?
They feel a lot like normal shoes. The midsole is mostly empty air. It has a little bit of structure in there. There are also some elements that guide your foot in the right position. That’s the best way to describe it. They are quite hard. There’s very little padding under the forefoot, and that’s because I also do believe there’s some truth to the whole barefoot movement. We cuddle our feet a lot nowadays. We wear very soft shoes. I don’t think that’s very beneficial to our bodies in the long term.
Us women are really torturing our feet too on our end.
That is also true.
I live in basically bare feet and flip-flops when I’m not on a stage or not traveling or not in public. I understand that barefoot movement is really important. That’s nice that these are accommodating that.
Apart from that, I’ve try to just make as good a shoe as I can. That means that it feels like a normal shoe. This is not a thing that is hard to quantify, “How do they feel?” I’m not trying to make a performance shoe. I’m not trying to make a sports shoe in that sense. I’m trying to make the first one as a lifestyle sneaker, and from here on end, I hope to branch out to different models. I also need to mention that so far I’ve done everything by myself, the website, just the 3D stuff, also reaching out to people.
You mentioned in an email that you sent me that the challenge is marketing and finding the right way to market your product and market your designs. That is a big challenge overall and something that we’ve been talking about and working towards and trying to figure out the right process for doing it. It’s an expensive proposition to draw in a market and send them to you. If there’s a way for you to partner with someone who has access to that, you were mentioning the barefoot movement. Maybe there’s some partners out there who have access to those people who might be most likely to want to test them out, want to try them. Then you’re going to get a lot more feedback. When you can find a way to use those other people’s resources as a part, it’s just as good as getting in extra money, extra capital. It’s capital you’re not spending there you could spend on new designs. Better materials is also a big challenge for you.
Also there’s a lot more technical possibility that I haven’t explored yet. I’m also looking very much forward to being able to print with two materials for example or two colors. There are so many possibilities of what I can do.
Your website is very well-done especially for having done it yourself. It looks very credible and professional. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because you’re a designer. You have this page where you say at the top, “Want to 3D print yourself?” Are you inviting people to actually print some of your shoes on their own or just your being a part of the 3D print community and talking about the materials and sharing your process?
The latter part. I do feel like where I am with the shoes now, there’s a lot of IP. There’s a lot of intellectual property that I’ve invested a lot of time in myself and that is something that I hope to get back now for a little bit. I do feel that those flexible materials, TPUs and TPEs, they have so much potential that I’d be happy to help anybody who has questions on that.
If you get more users using it then we can expand the color offering because it’s horrible. I can’t complain about that one the most. That was when we did the episode with Danit Peleg. She uses FilaFlex and I was really shocked at some of the color options she had. We were not even aware of that one. That’s where the more we talk about these types of things, the more we become aware worldwide of what’s going on. That is really great that you want to participate in the community that way because it’s going to make it better for everyone. You’ve done a tremendous amount of work here. You’ve got a lot of great designs and you showcase different textures for the soles, among other things. What is the next step for you?
The next step for me is really to see how I can grow this company and these shoes into something that has long-term potential. There are several ways to go about that. I’m in Hong Kong currently and I know there are some incubators here that might be an interesting path, although a lot of the incubators here are very much focused on financial apps and similar stuff.
It’s less product and more tech and app and software. We find that here in the US as well. There are not a lot of really great incubators that are focused around product companies.
It also makes sense because the startup I did before with orthopedic sandals taught me how difficult it is to do product. It’s really a different world from software. The whole startup world basically floats on software development.
Keep persevering because there is a shift. It’s coming. The retailers are in trouble. They don’t have enough great products to sell. The shoes sizing, this is a disruption that needed to happen. I don’t know that it needs to go all the way custom. It just needs to not be excessive inventories of sizes that don’t sell. There is a serious expense going on in the shoe departments of every single retailer out there, even ones that are just being ecommerce delivered in general. Still, there’s in a warehouse somewhere there’s backup inventory, and that is so expensive. The carrying costs and the stuff that doesn’t sell, you have to close out or trash. In shoes, it’s so high. This has got to be an area that’s ready for the disruption you’re bringing.
That is a big part of what I’m trying to achieve.
I could see that you could have distributed manufacturing of these shoes certainly in every country. Let’s just take a big country like the US. I could see having a manufacturing facility in every Amazon distribution center or right next door to every Amazon distribution center. Maybe you have to have initially only one or two pairs of certain sizes available, the most common, ready to ship. I guess if you could predict, maybe colors complicate that, but if people didn’t have to wait for a day or two for you to print them on demand and ship them, you could keep a small stock and then just replace it. Maybe you can do waiting to get an order and printing, if you have enough machines, it would take a day to print before you ship. I think three to five days is plenty.
If you order online, usually it takes three to five days, possibly a week, to get your product. If people come and visit me here in Hong Kong in the co-working space where I work, I do have all the sizes there so they can try on a pair. I’ve noticed that has a big conversion level. I do think, especially with these new kind of products, 3D printed products, also other materials that people have never touched or felt or they don’t really have any experience with it, just to be able to try a pair on helps enormously with convincing them.
What about trying the Warby Parker model? What if you just had the raw inside, not the whole shoe or anything like that but just like what the raw insides of your various styles might be? Somebody picks them and you just send them the size bigger, the size smaller and the size in between. They get three and they return them, and while their returning it, it’s on its way. The brand new one they’ve decided is the right size, the right fit, and the right order for them is on its way. You’d ship twice or three times really, which is unfortunate, but as you expand it and you had more distribution centers or things that you were, you’d be just really sending them out local and back. Or you just treat them as total loss for your company and you just say recycle them. It was almost like that inside fit portion and not all the nice printed outside, all of that. It’s a fit test and you would be able to do a couple of sizes or half size up and half size down so people could really test it out and check it out.
There are lots of great things to consider here. I think that the victory here is that you’ve created some really nice designs that are completely credible as shoes. From a normal view of them, you would not necessarily know they’re 3D printed. The characteristics of the designs, the shapes, how the material flows and all that, don’t scream that they’re 3D printed, which I think is a tremendous victory also. Now, you’re talking about really executing more of a business marketing sales and distribution strategy, and these are all very solvable problems in the world of business. I think there are still some design problems like combining materials and colors and things like that. As women, we like embellishments on our shoes and some other things which makes them harder to recycle afterwards, I get that. You can start to think about doing some things and that really is going to require a lot of material innovation. Maybe the next step for you is also that because that has to come a long way in terms of better colors and materials. Maybe that’s the next partnership. They need great applications and great case studies of how good it could be.
I’m hoping for example to work together possibly with up and coming fashion designers.
Keep pushing what you can do. It’s fantastic. When you think about it, the designer just decided, “I’m going to make a shoe line today,” and seven months later you did it.
Also, don’t underestimate it. It’s been a scary process. I’ve been doing it all on my own savings. Sometimes you come across something in life and you decide, “I have to do this. If I don’t do it, I’ll regret it forever.” Basically, that is what I’m doing at the moment. If it doesn’t work out at some point, at least I have tried, but I’ve got a good feeling about it. I’ll just keep pushing it as long as I can.
That’s really where I see the industry though absolutely needs to start tapping in and reinvesting. Where the industry is having a problem is that they are not moving fast enough. If 3D printers, filament manufacturers, no matter what part of the industry you’re talking about, there’s CAD and the software side, they all need to start reinvesting where applications like yours are happening and you need to hang on because it hasn’t tipped yet. It is a little early from your side, but if they lose people like you who’ve really gotten it far along because you run out of funds and you just can’t keep going because the market is not big enough yet, then they’re going to lose out in the long run. It’s time for them to invest. Somebody’s going to fund this. There’s just no way. You’ve got a really good proof of concept. I think that whatever powers that be in the financial world should be jumping at the chance to fund you and keep moving it forward.
Don’t underestimate the fact that you really are at a critical mass point where mass market cannot keep up with the inventory levels that they are at, and they have to have a solution. It is ripe for disruption. Think about it, Lucy Beard said 130 some part are in a typical show. It was a ridiculous number. I was like, “Really, that many parts?” Different pieces that go into a typical shoe and have to get assembled mostly by hand labor. Now, as it is currently, this is a one-part shoe or maybe a two-part shoe with the laces. There’s an opportunity there and it’s pretty exciting. If I were any of the big shoe manufacturers, I would be really considering it right now because complexity really costs.
Philippe, thank you so much for coming on the show. Thank you for reaching out to me on Instagram. You’re a great example. There you are, you’re reaching out, you’re doing so much good marketing in that you’re finding ways to get your message out.
Thank you very much. I also really enjoy your podcasts. I think they’ve been very informative and they’re actually also a lot of fun, which is important.
Thank you. We’re still having fun doing it so we appreciate that too. Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad that you find it fun. Now that we’re over episode 500, we’re increasing the number of episodes per week that we’re doing again. Hopefully, there’ll be more of it for you and the other listeners to enjoy. We want to feature a lot more good designs like what you’re doing, so keep up the good work and keep us posted.
Awesome, I’ll do that.
Design Challenge Accepted: 3D Printed Mens Shoes – Final Thoughts
I want to try some shoes out. You figure one-material or one-part shoe, how comfortable is it? I respect Philippe’s opinion that he’s a believer in the barefoot movement or that we baby our feet too much perhaps with making shoes ultra-comfy and soft. Maybe I’m even guilty of that a little bit. Most of the year here fortunately in Southern California, I like walking around in flip-flops too. There’s not a lot of material. I think my flip-flops are pretty much one material under my feet anyway most of the time. He’s got the ability with 3D printing and he told us how he’s doing it. He’s not just printing solid material under your feet, he’s printing structures under there that have cavities and support and guidance and cushioning and obviously shape that I’m really interested to try it. I think I’m going to have to order a pair. I’m impressed how much he’s dived into it. You can tell while he’s only been doing this for seven months, he has completely dedicated himself to this over that time. I don’t know if he mentioned on the interview or not that he has really and he’s living off his savings as he’s building this, but he’s really achieved a tremendous amount and I believe it. I really do believe he’s got a tremendous chance of success here and I think there’s a market for what he’s making.
I see it all over retail right now. Everyone is sitting back in the retail channel and the retail chain going, “What’s next? What aren’t we getting? Why isn’t this working? The costs are too high. We’re cutting SKUs, Stock Keeping Units. It’s not working.” This is a big problem overall and it’s going to take disruptors like Philippe to really make a difference and really show them that bridge between what they are selling today and this futuristic made-to-order complete future. It doesn’t have to be that way. It can be a hybrid in between. It can be a bridging where you keep a low stock on sizes and you replenish like you were talking about during the interview. I think that we really should start thinking about that as there has got to be some executives who are sitting back going, “My budget’s blown. Shoes are killing us.” We can’t exactly get rid of our shoe department. What should we do next? If you’re out there, you are those people who are just thinking about that and you stumble on this episode, this is the person to contact.
This is the second interview we’ve done within a couple of weeks where I can really see that it’s not a very big leap from where he is to where he wants to go in practical reality. The first one you mentioned during the interview is Danit Peleg. I think after hearing that interview is when he contacted us. He Instagrammed me about using the same kind of filaments, the FilaFlex, the flexible filament. For using it, look what he made with it. When he Instagrammed it to me, I instantly was like, “Just come on our show. Let us talk about this. I don’t want to have an Instagram conversation because I have too many questions.”
Danit is making her fashion on a desktop 3D printer and doing an incredible job of it. It’s a very expensive, high-end couture fashion type stuff. It’s not necessarily affordable for everybody, but her vision is to bring it there and to keep advancing it. Take Philippe, he’s got shoes. We’ve been all over his website. He’s selling shoes somewhere around $130, $150, up to a couple of hundred depending on the style. To drop $150 on average into a pair of shoes is not unheard of in terms of the market in general. Maybe it’s for the material, maybe it’s a little high-priced, but I think when you consider all the design and the innovation and everything that’s gone into it, it’s a lot closer to reality than Danit’s couture fashion is. I think also he’s got very, very little labor putting anything together, maybe just lacing up laces once it comes off the printer the way he’s doing it. Even the consumer can do that. Lots of us have to lace our own sneakers when we get them out of the box.
At $200, if it’s your answer, if it’s really like, “My foot’s just not right. I have two different-sized feet. I really like this kind of model. Those over-constructed shoes are too much for me.” This is maybe the answer and you want to try it. $200 is not too much to try something. Especially if maybe you have more of an environmentalist concern about consumption in this world. Here you have a product that’s completely recyclable as it is now because it’s made of one material. Remove the laces from it, but so what? You’ve got one material. You don’t have to separate material. That’s inherently recyclable and may very well be completely sustainable if you can really grind it up and make new filament out of it with the one color. I know in the future he’ll have multiple colors and there will be other embellishments and materials in there, but still highly recyclable. Just for an environmental responsibility perspective, it’s fantastic.
C: Men’s shoes come in very few colors typically so you already have a limited color palette.
I also think that men’s shoes is such a smart place to go. Women are a lot more completely fashion-sensitive about things, and fit is a lot harder when you talk about heels and height. There’s a lot of complications when you go into that. Men’s shoes come in very few colors typically so you already have a limited color palette. When you start something challenging, if you can have some manufactured constraints, it is constraining for you. It’s not like, “I don’t have to reinvent this and I don’t have to offer 300 colors because the rest of the market doesn’t already.” It helps you in not having to reinvent everything.
I think there’s a lot of other opportunities. Clearly, he’s a great designer. He’s already demonstrated that and produced a lot of impressive designs. To me it’s impressive because it’s in the subtleties, in the service textures or even the overall. Some of those shoes look like they’re made of leather because of how he’s designed that surface to not be just completely flat. Some people get into using CAD and creating designs when they’re new at it. The reality of how you can create structures in CAD and they’re over-simplified with these long flat surfaces. Products that you start to make at first when you’re new at it can look overly simplified and machined or CAD-made. You can tell he’s a good designer and the CAD software is not ruling his design. He is dictating what that design is going to be and just using CAD as a tool, which is fantastic. A lesson for any of you young designers or engineers who might be doing consumer products to have aesthetic value to them. He’s helping to transcend the material and take your eye and your thoughts away from the filament and from the process, which is something that Danit is doing as well.
When you see that, it’s the artistic sensibility. It is something that I don’t think and I really disagree with some of the people we’ve talked to in the recent past. You think that we should just let the mathematics and let the machine decide what the structure should be or the design should be. I actually think that’s ridiculous. There are functional purposes and maybe inside parts. For engineered parts, I think that it actually may make a lot of sense. Getting weighed out of something or out purpose. When you’re talking about aesthetic choices, aesthetic choices have to come from years of experience, and he obviously has that. I think that the years he’s spent both studying design and form and CAD and shoes. He works in the footwear industry first, and then just has applied his knowledge and experience there to a completely new manufacturing process and material. I think that Philippe is making a lot of smart choices in both design and structure, and it is serving his shoes well.
For you techies out there, you can tell when you see some of the images. If you want to order a pair of his shoes, just come and get that. You can tell with some of the photos, he doesn’t hide the fact that it’s 3D printed. He’s celebrating it. Obviously, even the name of his company, FUSED Footwear, is celebrating it. You can tell the orientation he’s making his shoe is that the shoe is being printed upright. If you stick it on its heel and you stick the shoe at its longest dimension up in the air, maybe there’s a certain angle he’s got it at, but that is the orientation that he’s printing it which is so smart. That’s what allows him to create all those hollow structures that are in the sole under your foot and also in creating the opening for your foot. When you first get into 3D printing, you’re taught pretty early on the orientation you print a part is very important to the quality of part and whether you need to use support material or not. You can tell he’s designed these shoes and is printing them in a manner that he doesn’t need any support material. It’s just printing the shoe straight up. The shapes inherently that are needed to make a proper shoe lend themselves to this layer by layer process building up in that way, and he’s able to just make a complete shoe in one part. It’s brilliant.
I really hope that you all go there. Check this out, support, spread the message. If any of you in the industry are listening out there, these are the people to invest in. These are the people that you need to take and keep supporting them so that they keep this industry moving forward. If you want to sell more machines, if you want to sell more filament, if you want to sell more software, if you want to get more people excited about CAD, then this is what it’s going to take is to support the artisans and designers and the people making real viable application businesses like Philippe here. Do that. Definitely go to 3DStartPoint.com. Go anywhere on social media @3DStartPoint and we will be sharing these images out. Thanks again for listening. This has been Tracy and Tom on the WTFFF 3D Printing Podcast.
- FUSED Footwear
- Iris van Herpen
- Zaha Hadid
- United Nude
- Smooth Sparks LOW
About Philippe Holthuizen
Founded by Philippe Holthuizen FUSED footwear offers made-to-order 3D Printed custom shoes. Contrary to conventional shoes which are comprised of multiple pieces glued and stitched together, FUSED shoes are made all in one piece. They come with a structured midsole providing comfortable cushioning- only the laces are added separately. The fashionable lifestyle sneakers are low or high cut and can be customized in numerous ways. They are very light and fully recyclable by returning them to FUSED.
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