With a vision to use data to drive customized, on-demand manufacturing, Alex Diener of Pensar Development was inspired to come up with a better athletic shoe, something that could be custom-fitted based on an individual's personal experiences and biomechanics. A good deal of time was spent by Diener and his colleagues developing the idea, which resulted in a digital 3D model called the DNA-Shoe.

The DNA-Shoe was conceived to illustrate the possibility of customized manufacturing in the footwear marketplace. Just recently the digital prototype for the Pensar DNA-Shoe was transformed from a virtual concept into 3D printed reality, appearing at 3D Printer World Burbank in the exhibit, "Visionaries of the Additive Future."

Pensar's team of Kristin Will, Spencer Denton, Mark Selander, and Michael Itano collectively nurtured the design under the strong belief that data-driven products will come sooner than later.

The inspiration to develop the shoe came during an afternoon workout when Diener realized that his custom orthotics, which were hand-carved out of foam and specially fitted for his feet, could easily be a thing of the past with 3D scanning, data-gathering, and additive manufacturing technology.

The DNA-Shoe concept is meant to be mass tailored using information related to work-out behavior and foot contour measurements. This data is gathered during a test run and then implemented in the final manufactured shoe. The idea was well received on various blogs and social networks, but the missing component was the actual 3D printed product.

Fathom, a 3D printing service that specializes in advanced prototyping, printed the shoes and agreed to split the cost for printing. As part of that agreement one shoe will be on display at Fathom's Seattle location and the other will be kept at Pensar.

For the first round of development the focus was placed on aesthetics over wearability. If a foot fits, the shoe can be worn, but it may not hold up to repeated use. Future iterations may focus on the durability of the shoes with the implementation of stress cuts in the 3D printed rubber-like material to give the shoes more flexibility.

Pensar's shoe was designed completely in Solidworks and Fathom had no trouble validating the file for 3D printing. The final shoe was printed on a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 with a combination of rigid and flexible materials that included VeroClear, VeroYellow, Tango, and TangoBlack+.