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Asics Customizes Flip Flops With 3D-Printing Startup

Can 3D printing nudge footwear brands toward an eco-friendlier future?

LuxCreo thinks so. The 3D printing and production company, with a footprint in San Francisco and Beijing, forged a new partnership with Asics and expanded its manufacturing Smart Factory enabling brands to scale production of the 3D-printed products they develop.

“Manufacturers are continually focusing on producing more goods efficiently, with less waste and higher throughput,” the company wrote on its Smart Factory microsite. The manufacturing facility interconnects command and control systems, giving producers a deep degree of visibility into operations and a high level of control over production and assembly.

LuxCreo's Smart Factory in Beijing.
LuxCreo’s Smart Factory in Beijing. LuxCreo

The technology also allows for on-demand manufacturing and mass customization—features that footwear brand Asics recently leveraged to customize flip flops for attendees at its Asics Future Experience Lab event in Tokyo. The companies will continue to work together to develop more personalized products, as Asics has been seeking a solution that allows for more efficient resource management and waste reduction.

“There is strong demand for custom footwear that is better performing and sustainable,” Norihiko Taniguchi, general manager of the future creation department at Asics’ Institute of Sports Science, said. “With LuxCreo’s 3D printing and Smart Factory solutions, mass customization of high-performance footwear will come true in the near future.”

The Smart Factory’s production service offers both 3D-printing hardware and software, along with the elastic and engineering resins needed to create a range of products. The automated process eliminates the need for tooling and molds used in traditional footwear manufacturing, and instead relies on digital files to produce products. The factory offers brands the option to make varying volumes of product, and since the costly process of developing molds is eliminated, they are able to go to market with a greater assortment of goods and sustainably produce to demand.

“Over the last year, many companies are experiencing significant disruptions in their manufacturing supply chains,” Michael Strohecker, LuxCreo’s chief revenue officer, said. The Smart Factory and cloud-connected 3D printers allow the company’s global customers to have greater flexibility in where they manufacture, he said, while giving them the freedom to pivot on product designs and producing in small batches versus large volumes.