Does the footwear industry use CAD?

Hey gang,

  1. Is there CAD software that the big name brands use to make 3D printed Prototypes? I’ve read a lot of articles about brands like Clarks, Nike, New Balance using CAD to increase their prototyping efficiency by creating more iterations in less time. Apparantly this seems to be the new big switch in footwear development. I just can’t find any actual specifics on what CAD programs they use. (I realize there is a lot of hype about 3D printed shoes for the retail market, but in this discussion I’m just interested in the 3D printer as a prototyping tool.)

Solidworks is what I’m familiar with, but I’m not sure it’s possible to add dimensional texture to a model I intend to print.

I saw Shoemaker Pro, and from what I’ve seen online, it looks pretty incredible – almost too good to be true.

2.On a side note, I’m also interested in which 3D printers these companies use, 3D systems seems to offer printers with good color and definition capabilities. I’m bias to them because I used a projet 3500 HD at my last job, but I’d like to know of any others common to the footwear industry.

Thanks for all your help!

When I was at converse they used Rhino for the tooled parts and freeform for the soft uppers. Nike actually developed some of its own software for uppers with proprietary features.

Rhinoceros + Grasshopper with Lunchbox and Weaverbird plug-ins opens up some incredible opportunities for shoe design.

Autodesk Within is another application creating optimized generative structures. It was used by Under Armour for their Architech 3D printed shoe. Autodesk’s Shoemaker Pro and other footwear design software have been discontinued.

iCad 3D+ is a 3D modeling environment geared especially towards footwear and outputs STL and IGES formats.

What’s used for the patterns?

Nike had developed some pretty custom tools with some partners. Similar in someways to some of the sheet metal plug ins that allow you to unfold a pattern. You could then build up lines on a last, creat offsets based on material thickness, unfold that to flat for the factory or import and merge it with the tooled parts.

That’s pretty cool. Do they use the 3D files for renderings as well?

14 years ago, I just did a tech package in Illustrator. Mind you, I was using an existing sole tooling, so it was only an upper design.

I would say that currently MODO and Romans cad 3d are the two most common that i’ve seen. A lot of companies have been using modo, if what i’ve heard is correct all New Balance designers have to do at least one project per season in modo. If you just search “modo” and “footwear” together you should get a few hits.

I would say that most designers have not made the transition yet, and if you have 3D experience this could give you a big leg up when looking for work. Right now though the industry and timelines move at such a fast pace with so many frequent changes that most departments are still skeptical about implementing it into their workflow.

For us we had a powder-based printer, don’t remember the make or model though.

maybe a Z Corp machine?

Mostly later for color ways to reduce sampling.

Lasts, Tape, AI and Solidworks over here… For better or worse.

Hi,I work for Zara_Inditex as 3D footwear designer…we use several 3D softwares.But normaly one for uppers which is Icad3D+,that is superfast.The other for outsoles we use Blender.We print out in 3D almost all the outsoles in our 3DLab.For us 3D is a fantastic tool,really useful and faster than before.You can do easily 4-5 3dmodels per day using Icad3D+ with good quality renderings using Maxwell as we do.