For the first time recycled textiles has been used in making 3D-printed shoes. “The demand for more sustainable products is huge. There’s no doubt that there will be consumers who would like to buy these kinds of shoes if we put it on the market”, says Chris Margetts, founder of The Sole Theory and sustainable fashion brand Humans Are Vain, in a pressrelease from Wargön Innovation and Innovatum Science Park.
From production through to end-of-life, shoes have a big impact on the environment. At the same time enormous amounts of textile waste is incinerated or sent to landfill each year. One solution is to use fibers from textile waste to make new and locally produced shoes.
– The recycling process is inspired by the fact that textile waste contains both polymers and cotton fibers that can be converted into composites and made into 3D printable filaments, says Aji Mathews, professor at Stockholm University in Sweden.
The filament is made of shredded textile fiber from Wargön Innovation, a textile innovation centre, and is then recycled at Stockholm University and company Add North. The shoes are then 3D-printed by ZYYX Labs that develops and produces 3D-printers focusing on strong composite materials.
Decreased environmental impact
Calculations show the environmental impact can decrease with up to 95 percent per shoe using recycled textiles. Further more the amount of components in a pair of shoes can decrease from 20-30 to about 2-3, which would ease recycling process considerably.
– We believe that the 3D printer will be a standard tool for every engineer, just like the computer is today. Our aim is business to business solutions that can help our customers. In this case with hand-recycled textile fibers I was expecting more flow issues, but the results were surprisingly good, says Tomas Bengtsson, CEO of ZYYX Labs.
A game changer
The shoe project initiate a radical system innovation that could be a potential game changer for the fashion industry.
– You will be able to take last season’s fashion and recycle the material to todays outfit. It is a whole new way of thinking, says Chris Margetts.
The development ahead includes testing other biobased materials and producing more advanced products like sneakers. In the process Chris Margetts and the other parties also have discovered several areas of improvement.
– Next step includes how we can integrate 3D bodyscan in the production and print personalized shoes on demand.
The Project is financed by Swedish Innovation agency Vinnova, through innovation programme Bioinnovation, together with the project partners. Innovation programme Bioinnovation supports innovative projects.
Project partners: The Sole Theory, ZYYX Labs, Stockholm University och Wargön Innovation.