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We|aver+: Parametrically designed therapeutic shoes protect and rehabilitate rapidly-developing feet from chronic heel discomfort for children aged 8-14
We | aver+ is the first therapeutic children's shoe system parametrically designed to protect and rehabilitate rapidly-developing feet from chronic heel discomfort for children aged 8-14. It learns and amplifies the microstructure and mechanism of knitting in fabric to build with single material by 3D printing with pretension: It is stretchable in one direction, while stable in the perpendicular direction to ensure the shoes have the flexibility for movement and enough support for protecting growing bones.
Function-Oriented Design Ideation
3D Print-knit is a new material that combines the wisdom of traditional textiles and the power of 3D printing.
After studying children's foot health issues and potential causes, we learned that suitable shoes should have flexible soles that bend with every step, offer support in the center of the shoe to eliminate twisting and give shock absorption and stabilization in the heels. Also, the flexible upper helps prevent joint injuries and fatigue. These criteria triggered the design process and were transferred to the key elements of the We| aver+.
Rather than the softness of textiles, we mainly got inspired and found the solution from the structural properties of hollow-loose knitting, which looks like chainmail that is made of the same material but has different stretches and supports in different directions. 3D printed with elastic TPU as such a structure, the upper of the shoe will wrap tightly around the foot but also offer potential flexible room for the foot to fit in.
The project is to efficiently design and produce customized therapeutic shoes for children as their feet keep growing and vary from person to person. After researching children's feet' health and potential causes, we learned that suitable shoes should have flexible soles that bend with every step, offer support in the center of the shoe to eliminate twisting and give shock absorption and stabilization in the heels. Also, the flexible upper helps prevent joint injuries and fatigue. These criteria become the critical points in the design process and are transferred to the highlight elements of the We| aver+.
To achieve the balance of flexibility and stability for different foot conditions, the team used 3D scanning to capture the accurate geometry of children’s feet and simulated the pressure distribution with a heatmap. Using plug-ins like Kangaroo, Weaverbird, Mesh+, and LunchBox in Grasshopper, the DOE optimization of forms can rapidly be done on 3D models to satisfy customization requirements.
In addition to adopting parametric design to make generative forms lightweight, we also explored the possibility of 3D printing the entire shoe from a uniform material. After several rounds of prototyping with UV, SLA, and FDM printers, opted to print with recyclable TPU, measuring 230mm*85mm*135mm.
We|aver+ has won iF DESIGN AWARD 2022, Product Category, 1.20 Medicine / Health and INTERNATIONAL DESIGN AWARDS (IDA), 2021, Gold in Sustainable fashion, Gold in Special Purpose Shoes, Gold in Footwear.
We will continue to work on simplifying the scanning, calculation, and generation process to improve the clinical application of implementing We|aver+ systems in the near future. We are actively reaching out to 3D printing startups in the Boston area to integrate biodegradable and durable cutting-edge formulations to enable this project on a higher sustainable level.
“Children are one-third of our population and all of our future”, so we believe that everyone grows from a child into a human step by step, we want to ensure that every step of the child can be healthy and happy through humanity-centered design.