In a typical FDM system, the extrusion nozzle moves over the build platform horizontally and vertically, “drawing” a cross section of an object onto the platform. This thin layer of plastic cools and hardens, immediately binding to the layer beneath it. Once a layer is completed, the base is lowered — usually by about one-sixteenth of an inch — to make room for the next layer of plastic.
Printing time depends on the size of the object being manufactured. Small objects — just a few cubic mm — and tall, thin objects print quickly, while larger, more geometrically complex objects take longer to print. Compared to other 3D printing methods, such as SLA or selective laser sintering SLS, FDM is a fairly slow process.
Once an object comes off the FDM printer, its support materials are removed either by soaking the object in a water and detergent solution or, in the case of thermoplastic supports, snapping the support material off by hand. Objects may also be sanded, milled, painted or plated to improve their function and appearance.
These shoes are 3D-printed using flexible, durable filament so they can be folded up and stuffed into a pocket or bag.
Designed by Ignacio Garcia of Spanish 3D-printing firm Recreus, the Sneakerbot II shoes are printed with the company’s Filaflex 1.75-millimetre filament, which comes in a range of metallic colours and matte hues.
The shoes can be printed on a MakerBot using a custom extruder also designed by Garcia, which prevents the elastic filament becoming tangled during the process.
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