AYAME, a custom-made shoe subscription service, has pioneered the use of 3D printing in traditional shoemaking. The service, possibly a first of its kind, leverages Prusa 3D printers to create custom shoe-lasts based on 3D scans of customers’ feet, ensuring a perfect fit for each shoe produced.
Founded by a technologically inclined individual, NAME Suwabe, AYAME’s journey began with a challenge to integrate 3D printing into shoemaking. Initially, Suwabe faced difficulties with unreliable printers, but the transition to Prusa printers marked a turning point, providing reliability and minimal maintenance requirements.
A critical aspect of AYAME’s process is the creation of the shoe-last, a central component in traditional shoemaking. Balancing the strength and flexibility of the 3D printed lasts to accommodate different shoe designs and customer needs was a significant challenge. The solution was found in optimizing the printing parameters, such as nozzle size and layer height.
The core of AYAME’s innovation lies in merging 3D scanning and printing with conventional shoe making techniques. This approach has led to an improvement in product quality, focusing on customer comfort and fit. However, integrating 3D printing into the shoe itself remains a complex task due to the diversity of materials required for functionality.
AYAME’s service model caters to customers struggling to find well-fitting shoes. The combination of 3D and manual measurements, along with a vast array of design options, allows for a highly tailored shoe-making process. To make these custom shoes more accessible, AYAME introduced a subscription service, reducing financial barriers and promoting regular use over treating custom shoes as luxury items.
Sustainability is also a key focus for AYAME. The company uses leather from Ezo-shika deer, a species overpopulating in Hokkaido, thus contributing to ecological balance. They employ tie-dyeing techniques to utilize leather with imperfections, ensuring each shoe is unique.
Looking ahead, AYAME’s future involves breaking down barriers in the Japanese shoe industry and exploring mass production of bespoke products. Plans to simplify the measurement process by sending 3D scanners to customers’ homes indicate a forward-thinking approach in custom shoemaking.
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