3D Printed Self-Repairing Running Shoes Made of Regenerating Cells

Have you ever heard about self-repairing running shoes? We didn’t, until today. Shamees Aden, who is a London designer and researcher has created a prototype for running shoes that can actually repair themselves overnight. The shoes are made of ‘cells’ that regenerate so they won’t wear out.

They are called Protocells Trainers and the shoes are made of protocells. They are 3D printed in order to create perfectly fitting shoes for the user. Aden worked together with Dr Martin Hanczyk from the University of Southern Denmark to develop a synthetical biological substance using protocol technology. Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what “protocells” are, because frankly we didn’t know either. However, a little research learned us protocells are non-living molecules and they can be combined to create materials that react on movement, pressure, heat and light. The great thing about protocells is that they can be 3D printed and whilst being used in a shoe they appear to fit the wearer’s feet like a “second skin”.

Dr Hanczyc tells about this: “The effect to the athlete is that the Protocell synchronise to the individual foot because this living technology is responsive and reconfigurable. It adapts in real time to the current activity of the runner by adding extra support in high impace areas.” After each run, the user could easily get his shoes repaired if he would place them in a jar filled with protocell liquid, wherein the protocells will heal their own tears. Despite of the fact the protocells really aren’t alive, they appear to act a little like human skin and are responsive to pressure.

However, it could take as many as 40 years until these running shoes will be public domain. Today’s version is only just a prototype, and a lot of further research will be needed to finish the shoes. Aden came up with this project because she looks into the future of footwear design in 2050 for the MA project for her studies at Central St Martins, London.

About the Author

Jelmer Luimstra is a Dutch journalist. He covers 3D printing news and writes about innovation.

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