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January 7, 2020

Native Shoes develops liquid gel 3D printed footwear

Canadian shoe company Native Shoes has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to 3D print two of its most popular footwear designs.

By Michelle Russell

Canadian shoe company Native Shoes has partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to 3D print two of its most popular footwear designs.

Working with MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab, the Liquid Printed Natives are printed in liquid rubber using a patented 3D printing technique. The shoes are initially designed on a computer before being printed directly into a container of reusable, water-based gel formula.

The shoe materials, development with Emily Carr University of Art and Design, are partially made of recycled EVA, or ethylene vinyl acetate; a flexible, rubbery material also used in the production of the company’s injection-moulded shoes.

Through the liquid printing process, the shoes can be made from 50% recycled EVA – a much higher percentage than the injection-moulding method allows, according to reports. The process is longer, but the company says “speed-to-market” is faster than for its injection-moulded shoes. The Liquid Printed Natives will be produced on-demand.

The shoes are understood to still be in the internal testing phase, so there is no release date yet.

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