If the Shoe Fits

MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, in collaboration with industrial designers Christophe Guberan and Carlo Clopath, are exploring the possibilities of a shoe that can be programmed to contour perfectly to your feet.

Called the Minimal Shoe, the footwear involves the use of an active textile that is made with a 3D printed extruded plastic. It is created by following a programmed pattern on stretched material, and once the material is released from the stretch, it morphs into a secondary shape, while the 3D printed sections remain in place.

“[Minimal Shoe] is an active textile and it’s a work in progress,” Guberan explained to The Creators Project. “We can shrink the size of the shoe, have it contract around your feet. 3D printing [entire] shoes is quite long and inefficient, so we minimized the amount of 3D printing used. It’s quite interesting to say that we don’t have to 3D print the entire shoe, but we can add to existing material,” he continued.

A Bright Start

Despite being in the early stages of concept development, the trio believes that combining traditional footwear materials (such as leather and rubber) with their 3-D printed plastic will allow for complete customization. “We can have active textiles that self-transform, but also make it efficient so that it could be feasible to produce these because it’s a minimal amount of time and material to get the textile highly active,” adds fellow designer and computer scientist, Skylar Tibbits.

Currently, a major sportswear company has shown interest in the process, but the researchers behind the project are skeptical whether a collaboration will come to fruition.

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