3D printed footwear is the future of footwear industry

  •  United States of America
  •  May 24, 2019
  •  By WFB Bureau
3D printed footwear is the future of footwear industry

The use of additive manufacturing (AM) and revenues connected to 3D printed footwear products are projected to generate over US $ 6.5 billion in yearly global revenues by 2029, growing at a 19.5 per cent CAGR.

The future of footwear industry will see rise in the manufacturing of 3D printed footwear. With the rise of additive manufacturing, it is now the turn of footwear sector to reap its benefits. A recently published report by report SmarTech Analysis forecast the revenue generation of over US $ 1 billion by 2023 by 3D printed footwear parts alone, including additively manufactured insoles, midsoles and uppers.

With the rise of automation in footwear manufacturing and the customization demands from consumers, additive manufacturing seems to be a promising and cost-effective solution for businesses in the future. Currently, the revenues associated with footwear 3D printing represent roughly 0.3 per cent of global footwear market revenues.

Asia, where most of the footwear mass manufacturing takes place, is also the place where footwear industry’s prototyping and mold-making services are carried out. Prototyping via 3D printing is still a relatively consolidated practice in the footwear industry. However, the report suggests the 3D prototyping will continue to expand driving the industry towards digital transformation.

The use of additive manufacturing in footwear will also lead to overall increase in demand of AM materials, which is expected to reach 3.7 thousand metric tonnes by 2029. AM Powders are expected to experience the most demand by the end of the forecast period, representing 1.8 million tonnes, roughly 50 per cent of total material demand.

Some of the AM technologies used in footwear production today are photopolymerization, intended as both traditional (SLA/DLP), and “layerless”, such as Carbon’s digital light synthesis. Powder bed fusion, intended both as SLS (laser based) but also thermal PBF technologies such as HP’s multijet fusion and voxeljet HSS (high speed sintering) are also highly relevant for mass customization applications.

The companies at the forefront of 3D printed footwear manufacturing are 3ntr, 3D Systems, 3DTi, adidas, Carbon, Crocs, EOS, Brooks Running, Anta, Aetrex ECCO, Feetz, Kings 3D, New Balance, Nike, OESH Shoes, Phits, Prodways, RESA, Scientifeet, SOLS Systems, Stratasys, Superfeet, Under Armour, Union Tech, Voxel8, Wiivv, Zoles and several more.

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