Innovation in Shoemaking: AYAME Integrates 3D Printing in Traditional Techniques


AYAME, a unique shoe subscription service that creates custom-made shoes, has innovatively used 3D printing in the age-old shoemaking process. This service uniquely utilises Prusa 3D printers to construct custom shoe-lasts formed from 3D scans of the clients’ foot shapes, making sure each shoe is an ideal fit.

The brainchild of technologically driven individual, NAME Suwabe, the AYAME project set its beginnings with the audacious idea to incorporate 3D printing into shoemaking. In the early stages, Suwabe faced challenges with inconsistent printers, but upgrading to Prusa printers became a game-changer, ensuring reliable operation and demanding less maintenance.

A crucial stage of the AYAME execution is the creation of the shoe-last, a foundational part of conventional shoemaking. A tough challenge was to strike a balance of strength and adaptability of the 3D printed lasts to suit variant shoe styles and meet customer requirements. The answer lay in fine-tuning the print settings, such as adjusting nozzle dimensions and layer stature.

The rest of the shoe is made more traditionally. (Image Credit: AYAME)

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.

AYAME is set to transform the Japanese shoe industry by venturing into the mass production of tailor-made products. With plans to simplify the measurement process by propelling the use of 3D scanners in customers’ homes, they are embracing a future-oriented strategy in the realm of custom shoemaking.


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