Insights

DNA at 3D printer world expo

The more accessible and mainstream 3D printing becomes, the more important the consumer experience is.  At the 3D Printer World Expo, our Creative Director, Alex, offered ideas on how consumers and retail can interact with rapid manufacturing.

The Conference was held in Bellevue, WA and was attended by not just industry, but many enthusiasts and early adopters in the general public.  Kids mingled with Gray-hairs in the line to get your face scanned and placed on a super hero.  There were inspiring seminars about what the future of 3D printing holds, including 3D printing in outer space, using 3D prints to replace broken parts or enhance existing parts of production machinery, and 3D artists and sculptors revealing their process.

Alex spoke about our DNA concept shoe and how we used 3D printing to envision a future where consumers are a part of the shoe making process.  Customers will be able to customize a shoe that is specifically tailored to the shape of their foot and their biomechanics. While there are many challenges around getting a concept like this to “production”, we see some major issues specific to 3D printing itself.  First, materials need to withstand the rigors of daily use and UV exposure, while being flexible and safe for skin contact.  Second, interfaces need to be intuitive enough for a mass market audience.  And third the overall customer experience needs to be examined and refined for retail

We chose to focus our concept on the consumer experience because it effects expansion of the 3D printer market as a whole, not just custom shoes.  We hope to help drive the discussion around 3D printers towards an intuitive, user friendly future.  As the market grows, the importance of the user experience increases.  The base knowledge of users is more varied and less technological.  The tolerance for having to adjust things and tinker is lower.  And the overall expectation for a simple and seamless experience is greater.

Below are some images from the show.  Check out the full story on the DNA shoe concept here.

A special thanks to FATHOM, Seattle’s 3D printing and additive manufacturing experts, for making these shoes a reality. The DNA Shoe was 3D printed by FATHOM using PolyJet Technology on an Objet500 Connex3 — a digital combination of rigid and flexible materials were used to achieve the ideal durometer (VeroClear, VeroYellow, Tango, and TangoBlack+).