Have you ever wanted to own shoes like the ones from the Back to the Future film? Shoes with adjustable laces that fit your feet…
The German company WertelOberfell appears to have succeeded in producing 3D-printed shoes that adapt to your feet, though it may not be exactly the same thing.
The Auxetic Wear shoes were designed using a desktop FDM 3D printer and TPU. These shoes rely on an auxetic structure, which allows the shoe to adapt to the wearer’s foot. The shoes expand or compress in response to the amount of stress applied.
Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel set out to create 3D-printed shoes in order to find the perfect pair and ensure maximum comfort. After identifying & testing a variety of materials, they turned to additive manufacturing, which provided them with greater flexibility.
Research & experiments
The WertelOberfell designers began with an auxetic structure – a structure made of auxetic materials, which have a negative Poisson’s ratio, which means they thicken when stretched, un-like other materials that trend to become thinner.
They also imagined a basic structure similar to that of a skeleton that would serve to give the shoe its final shape. They arrived at a basic shape after several tests.
Auxetic Wear explains the shoe’s design on its website: “The individual pieces are made with a resistant TPU (shore 98A), the auxetic structure is printed, including its reinforcement.” They are glued together before being sewn onto the existing sole, combining traditional craftsmanship with modern technology. The final design has undergone numerous iterations.”
The finished shoes are thus made up of several two-dimensional 3D-printed shapes sewn onto a traditional designed sole.
Ladies and gentlemen: WertelOberfell
Gernot Oberfell and Jan Wertel founded WertelOberfell in 2007 in Berlin and Munich, Germany. Both designers studied Industrial Design at the State Academy of Arts in Stuttgart, a school that based on the principles of the Ulmer Schule & the Bauhaus.
For companies like Braun, Neff, Philips, Panasonic, Sony, Yamagiwa, Bulthaup, MGX by Materialise, Iker, Nowystyl, DuPont Corian, and others, they have created furniture, lighting, industrial products to experimental research pieces.
Oberfell and Wertel explain on their website that they have a strong shared interest in new technologies & manufacturing techniques, and that they became aware of the potential of computer-aided design early in their professional careers.
Numerous work by WertelOberfell have been shown in prestigious art museums like the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
Understanding Auxetic Textile
Many of WertelOberfell’s works have been shown at major art institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.
Materials are also auxetic if a compressive load applied along an axis results in a reduction in dimension along an axis perpendicular to the axis along which the compressive load is applied.