In our previous blog post, we provided some guidance on how to 3D print shoe lasts, including with working hinges. But there are many other ways 3D printers can be useful in shoemaking. In particular, components like heels, platforms, and wedges lend themselves well to the 3D printing process. Whether you are a hobbyist needing a single pair for a particular shoe last, or are a business doing small batch production, 3D printing components is a great way to go.
All of our component designs can now be purchased as 3D models (stl format) for 3D printing. Simply choose a design from our components page and choose 3D model in the ‘Component Type’ drop down. You can also choose surface offsets depending on what coverings you plan to use. And you can specify what shoe last you would like us to match the component to via the ‘Level of Customization’ drop down.
An alternate way to order component models is to first pick a last from our collection of shoe lasts for sale, and then check the box in the order form ‘Include Matching Heels/Wedges/Platforms’. Then you can choose from the available matching components for that shoe last design. If your shoe last order is for a 3D model, then the component will also be emailed to you as a 3D model.
As with our shoe lasts, we use PETG filament to make our components. But there are a lot of other materials that could work. For instance, it might be interesting to try a filament with wood fibers, or maybe a metallic filament, leaving the component uncovered. Something to consider though is support material removal. Unlike with our 3D printable shoe last models, the design of our components sometimes requires support material. PLA tends to be easier to remove supports from than PETG or TPU.
One solution is to orient the components so they don’t require support. In the above image, this could be done by aligning the front edge of the wedge with the build plate. Another solution is to use a multi material 3D printer. The Prusa i3 MK3s+ we use isn’t such a printer, unless you add the multi material upgrade, which we understand to be a bit tricky to use. An alternative would perhaps be something like the Raise 3D E2 which is an IDEX (independent dual extrusion) printer. IDEX is particularly interesting for shoemaking as it can do mirrored components simultaneously (when not using it for multi material).
We are hoping to add more bottom components to our collection soon. If you have any requests, please let us know!