Home > Technology > These unique 3D-printed flip-flops let you be more eco-friendly » Gadget Flow

These unique 3D-printed flip-flops let you be more eco-friendly » Gadget Flow


You love summer trips to the beach. But what you’re not so crazy about are those cheap plastic flip-flops you buy each year that are uncomfortable and only last a season. Luckily, there’s a more eco-friendly option, and it’s a 3D print creation. The Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops keep the environment in mind and are custom designed to your foot. Check out this blog post to see all the details.

Make your beach vacation more eco-friendly this summer with these 3D printed flip-flops. The Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops are eco-friendly sandals made in the US. Designed to last and custom-fitted to your foot, they’re the ideal summer footwear. If you’re tired of feeling guilty about buying—then throwing away— a pair of cheap flip-flops for the beach every summer, you’ll want to take a closer look at these cool sandals.

These flip-flops are stylish, durable sandals. And even better, their design process essentially lets you become your own shoe creator. That’s because these 3D-printed flip-flops are fully customizable, thanks to the company’s unique 3D design tool. The custom latticed midsole structure gives you cushioning options for your toe, heel, and arch zones. Since everyone’s foot shape is different, this process ensures you get the proper fit. But best of all, the materials and processes that create these flip-flops are better for the environment and result in a sandal that lasts longer.

Design your own flip-flops

The creators of the Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops have made it easy to design your own beach footwear. To create your own flip-flops, you’ll use their 3D design tool and choose from over 1 million unique combinations. So you can select your insole, midsole, and outsole design. Then, you choose the color of the footbed and removable upper to match your style. Furthermore, there are four lattice types to choose from depending on your activity.

Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops in a video

How does the 3D printing process work?

The company uses Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) as its 3D printing technology. According to the company’s Kickstarter page, this process creates one of the most durable and detailed flip-flop footbeds out there. It starts by generating a custom CAD design file of the pair you’ve created. The design gets sent to the printer, where a layer of thermoplastic powder is spread on the print bed. A laser then sinters individual areas of the flip-flop on the footbed. In all, your flip-flops will consist of thousands of these layers, making a strong sandal that lasts. Any excess powder gets used in the next pair, creating nearly zero waste. It’s a process that’s very eco-friendly.

What materials do these locally made flip-flops use?

The company plans to launch these 3D-printed flip-flops using the SLS powdered Pebax. According to the Kickstarter page, Pebax elastomers are world-leading, high-tech polymers designed for use with high-performance sportswear. In fact, they’re requested by some of the world’s leading athletes and brands. What’s more, the Pebax Rnew materials feature caster oil grown from castor beans from the Gujarat region of India. The oil is refined to create the primary bio-based raw material in the polymer.

The post-processing phase delivers sealed, airtight parts

According to the creators, final samples of these 3D-printed sandals undergo VaperFuse Surfacing (VFS), which delivers sealed and washable parts with injection molding-like surfaces. Also, their vendor’s eco-friendly VaporFuse ECO Fluid solvent is non-CMR and has approval for processing plastics with food contact according to regulation (EU) 10/2011.

These eco-friendly flip-flops are long lasting and washable

Thanks to their durable materials and VFS process, the Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops are quite durable. Because the midsole design is a closed surface to the shoe’s interior, dirt that enters the lattice structure is easy to clean with running water. So when you get sand in them while walking back to the beach, a simple rinse is all you need to clean these eco-friendly shoes. Also, since the footbed is sealed, it won’t harbor any odors, nor will it feel squishy once dry.

The upper is interchangeable

Another hangup with typical flip-flops is that the style isn’t very flexible. If you get bored of the color or look, you have to buy a whole new pair of sandals. But with these 3D-print creations, you’ve got options. That’s because the footbed and the upper are two separate parts. So you can clean and recycle the footbed can change the upper if you want to go for a different look. The product ships with a molded TPU upper, but there’s an add-on fabric upper that uses recycled and organic materials. The company plans to offer even more environmentally friendly options following its launch.

Are the materials recyclable?

You bet they are. The footbeds of these eco-friendly flip-flops use a single material with no glue or added substances. For this reason, you could send your used footbeds back to the company for a regrind process. The makers plan to use reground footbed materials as injection molding materials for other parts like uppers, clips, and packaging.

Is the distrubution sustainable?

Yes, the company plans to manufacture these 3D flip-flops in the US initially, then source them locally long term. Since the footbeds are custom-made, the company has no excessive inventory waste production because everything is made on demand.

The Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops are a great choice for your summer footwear. Not only are they custom-made to fit your foot and match your tastes, but the design is also super-durable. So you can expect to wear these 3D printed-sandals for more than one season. And what if you’re bored of the color and design? Well, you can totally swap out the uppers for eco-friendly fabric ones. Overall, these are a great pair of sandals, and they’re ready to stand up to your next beach vacation.

The Impact Footwear IMPACT F1 flip-flops originally cost $125. You can currently preorder them for $99 on Kickstarter. What are your favorite beach-friendly gadgets and accessories? Let us know in the comment section below.

Lauren has been writing and editing since 2008. She loves working with text and helping writers find their voice. When she’s not typing away at her computer, she cooks and travels with her husband and two daughters.

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