Now that the worlds of footwear and 3D printers have collided, a whole new degree of creativity is upon us. Technology has a way of allowing us to connect with our ideas on a more technical level. And I wonder if 3D printers will aid as a helpful link in the creative process or distract us from the organic flow of ideas we may be used to.

I’ve experienced inaccuracy when moving a design idea in my head to paper, a common hick-up across all design fields. With affordable versions within our reach (models starting as low as $1,400), designers test the waters of a new creative direction.

3D printing has become quiet the conversation piece in recent years and its’ application in the fashion industry has spread across multiple forms of use, including shoe design. The device is a layer by layer process which manufactures three-dimensional objects using an array of materials in lieu of ink. Similar to how ink is applied to paper; a chosen material is applied atop its previous layer until the desired object is complete.

The breath of possibilities is endless as product options range from food, paper, gel, and powder-based materials. Unlike the subtractive process of laser-cut, 3D printing’s building concept acts as an additive process leading to a more efficient outcome and with that, less organic. This direction could be useful in the future for design fields of precision.

Since I am involved in architecture and fashion, I would hope to see advancement in the manipulation of textiles, precious stones, metals and hardware.

A few printing pioneers have taken it upon themselves to test how footwear and 3D printing can co-exist. Andreia Chaves and Kerrie Luft are a few shoe designers who enjoy incorporating 3D printing into their designs and have developed nylon sculptural cases and heels to accent their footwear.

The response has been mixed but the effort is all-around applauded. Upon experimenting, the 3D printing is best used for a shoes added structure and not the supportive structure. Nike is also toying around with 3D printed shoes, a tool that is revising and re-inventing how we create.