Custom shoes that cleave perfectly to your feet may be worth the wait, but if you’re the kind of person who thinks that same-day shipping isn’t soon enough, 13 weeks might as well be an eternity. If instant gratification is what you’re after, look to Marloes ten Bhömer, an experimental shoemaker who is using three-dimensional printing to reinvent the shoe—and the time it takes to make one. With the help of a mechanical engineer, the Dutch designer (and shoe-industry veteran) built her “Rapidprototypedshoe” by using a hot laser to sinter layers of polymer into the shape of a foot.

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ONE STEP AHEAD

Now based in London, ten Bhömer’s experiments with nontraditional shoemaking techniques have resulted in a series of conceptual pieces, ranging from the purely sculptural to the avant-garde wearables. Although ten has repeatedly pushed the boundaries of design, Rapidprototypedshoe marks her first foray into 3D printing. To create each shoe, the printer uses a 3D model of a person’s foot to lay down successive layers of powdered material (in this case two photopolymers), which are then cured using ultraviolet rays.

The shoe is also designed to be easily dismantled, so worn-out parts can be replaced.

By layering the two materials in different ways, multiple material properties can be created. The shoe is also designed to be easily dismantled, so worn-out parts can be replaced without sacrificing the entire shoe.

The Rapidprototypedshoe will be on display at the “Mechanical Couture” exhibit at Design Museum Holon in Israel until January 8, 2011. Ten Bhömer is featured alongside other innovators who’ve dabbled with high-tech clothing and accessories, including Issey Miyake, Cedric Flazinski, Shelley Fox, and Simon Thorogood.

+ Marloes ten Bhömer