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3D Printed Shoes Made from Protocells Could Repair Themselves

| 3D Printer Material, Fashion, Sports Technology | December 18, 2013

3D Printed Protocell Shoe

The conceptual shoe is made from 3D printed protocells

A british designer has envisioned the running shoe of the future which is 3D printed using a synthetic material made from primitive cells. The shoe will fit like a second skin and will regenerate overnight so it will never wear out.

Shamees Aden, a Masters degree student at Central Saint Martin’s University of London, has come up with the concept of a running shoe using live “cells” which is able to adapt to underfoot conditions, for example inflating in places to provide extra cushioning.

“Protocells is a form of synthetic biology that blurs the gap between the non-living and living,” she explains on her website.

Protocells are primitive cells that are simple molecules that lack the complexity of biological cells and a 3D printer will produce a shoe that fits the wearers foot exactly. Dubbed the “amoeba surface-adapting trainer”, the designer is exploring the future of new materials and Ms Aden worked on the idea for her shoes for her MA textiles future course project.

Working with protocell expert Dr Martin Hanczyc, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, the protocell shoe will act like a second skin as the cells will be able to self-heal, just like human skin, despite not truly being alive.

Protocell Shoe

The shoes must be stored in a special photocell fluid to regenerate their properties

She explains: “The effect to the athlete is that the protocell synchronises to the individual’s foot because this living technology is responsive and reconfigurable, adapting in real-time to the current activity of the runner by adding extra support in high impact areas.”

To maintain their biological properties the shoes must be stored in a jar full of special photocell liquid which helps repair the shoe. The shoes could temporarily dyed a different color just by storing them in a different colored liquid.

Regenerative Running Shoe

The shoes fit like a second skin and can move to places on the foot that need more cushioning

Don’t expect to be able to buy these running shoes anytime soon, as the designer thinks it will take around 40 years for the technology to be available to produce a consumer ready product.

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