3D-printed shoes are coming – for a perfect fit every time

Casca shoes
(Image credit: Casca)

A Canadian startup is aiming to create a new world of shoe shopping in which the footwear, or insoles, are customized to your exact size because the product is 3D-printed to be a perfect fit.

Casca, an operation based in Vancouver, has just launched its first retail outlet in the Canadian city. It offers tailor-made 3D-printed insoles, which are made to fit using a 3D model of your foot – and that model in turn is produced via an Android or iOS app that scans your foot and maps some 20,000 data points.

The insoles are specifically made for, and supplied with, Casca shoes, and they are fashioned from 100% recyclable and non-toxic (thermoplastic polyurethane-based) materials.

Casca shoes are designed for better support and according to the firm the FootB3D 3D-printed insoles “should support most foot shapes”. It isn’t recommended that you try to use them with your existing footwear, as they aren’t likely to fit well, and may constrict your feet (being chunkier than normal insoles, and specially designed to fit inside Casca footwear, which is shaped for them).

If the shoe fits, print it

At the moment, it’s just the insoles which are 3D-printed, and Casca told ZDNet it’s in a ‘hybrid phase’ where legacy shoe manufacturing is mixed with 3D printing.

The eventual aim for the company is to scale up its retail outlets and have multiple shops equipped with 3D printers that can create both your insoles and shoes on the spot.

Braden Parker, one of the co-founders of Casca, commented: “I think to be doing full shoes at that scale, there’s going to be a lot of challenges. But we do believe that within ten years we’ll be able to get to the point where you can see your entire shoe getting made in front of your eyes.”

Currently, it takes four hours to print a pair of custom insoles, but the company says it’s working hard to improve the process and make it quicker.

A pair of insoles costs $80 (around £60), and the Casca shoes start at $178 (around £140) for a pair of sneakers with a breathable knit. A Black Friday offer means if you purchase a pair of shoes, you get the 3D-printed insoles thrown in for free, and that runs from tomorrow through until (and including) Cyber Monday.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).