ECCO Steps Up in Footwear Industry with Customized 3D Printed Midsoles

ECCO, the global leader in innovative comfort footwear and leather goods has taken up a customized footwear creation project, QUANT-U. Coming from Innovation Lab ECCO (ILE), the project revolves around developing customized 3D printed midsoles. Presently, the QUANT-U project is in the pilot phase and this innovative service is solely available at ECCO’s concept store W-21 Amsterdam.

The Denmark-based footwear brand, EECO was founded by shoemaker Karl Toosbuy in 1963. Since then, it has entered the complete supply chain starting from owning tanneries to produce leather designing leather products and selling them worldwide.

ILE, likewise, is an independent entity of ECCO that explores innovative concepts to bring revolution in the footwear industry. The lab clinches projects related to alternate production methods, advanced materials, new technologies and experiential solutions in footwear.

“Throughout my experience in footwear design and engineering, the concept of perfect fit, perfect dynamics, and ultimate performance has long been an obsession”, says Patrizio Carlucci, the Head of ILE.

3D Printed Midsoles- Process
QUANT-U project includes three core steps in manufacturing 3D printed midsoles. They are Real-time analysis, Data-driven design, and In-store 3D printing.

REAL-TIME ANALYSISTo begin with creating customized footwear, first of all, a chip analysis the wearer’s orthotic fit in only 10 seconds. The result relies on a mixture of anatomical scan and sensor data that generates a unique digital footprint. Following this, the individual puts on sensor-filled shoes and walks on a treadmill. This allows the scanner to form a precise data of how the wearer’s weight is distributed during the movement.

Immediately the digital pattern of wearer’s midsole is imprinted on the silicone, based on data analysis. The whole process is completed using machine learning and structural simulations.

Finally, these 3D printed midsoles are then fixed to ECCO’s classic Flexure shoe model. It takes as little as two hours to manufacture a pair of customized footwear.

Fruition of QUANT-U
Carlucci witnessed a number of 3D printing technology incorporated in footwear industry over a period of time. However, nothing resulted in an actual customized, individual pair of shoes that gives perfect fit and beautiful aesthetics. This was because of two reasons – first, the 3D models are highly complex and the other one is lack of measurement data.

Emphasizing on roadblocks, Carlucci and his partner team worked on the digital capture of orthotic data and then transforming it into a real product.

Carlucci says “With QUANT-U we are now combining future technologies in order to customize footwear functionality and comfort without interfering with its aesthetics.”

As per ILE’s two years of research, it is proven that swapping regular midsoles with 3D printed silicone midsoles can tune its intrinsic properties; viscoelasticity, durability, and temperature stability.

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