Technology never fails to amaze, especially as it relates to 3D printing and scanning. Recently, a shoe that encapsulated everything there’s to love about Detroit was on display at the University of Michigan. The project began in 2011 as a part of an Integrated Product Development class and ended up as an actual product for a new company, Detroit Treads.
The designer of the shoes is Neil Zemba. He graduated from Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and has compiled a team that includes top designers and kinesiologists, ensuring the sandals promote optimum foot health and stability. 3D scanning was instrumental in making this design possible.
In fact, Zemba used a 3D foot model. He started out with the Kinect then used the HandyScan laser scanner for greater accuracy. In addition to the utilization of this technology, Zemba also used pressure graphs from Jordan and Nike to pinpoint specifically what areas of the foot hit the ground the hardest and need the most support. This allowed Zemba and his team to design a sandal that was formed to the foot in the most comfortable way possible.
With the 3D scanning step completed, Zemba designed a shoe mold with both an insole and outsole mold. One supports the foot and the other provides cushion from the ground. Then, 3D printing was used to print out these molds.
The design of these shoes combines several elements. They’re designed to look like standard sandals but they also incorporate some of the auto legacy born out of Detroit. The company works with Cass Community Social Services to pick up tires that have been abandoned along the sides of the road then they’re sent to Entench, Inc, a tire recycling company. From there, the recycled tire material is melted down and poured into the shoe molds.
A seatbelt strap is pressed between the two soles before it cools. These shoes are definitely tire inspired but they’re so much more than that. They use the very cutting edge of technology and Zemba and Detroit Treads may be on the verge of something truly unique and interesting. By using 3D scanning, this company is staying current with the latest advances technology has to offer without sacrificing the personalized touch that marks an excellent product. It will be exciting to see what all else this emerging company produces using their unique brand of technology and cultural touchstones.