OESH 3D printed sandals and the Manus x Machina Met Gala have this in common . . .

Few people are quick to relate OESH shoes with “high fashion” but the Manus x Machina exhibition and Met Gala theme, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, might convince you otherwise.

3D printed dress haute couture high fashion
Iris van Herpen, S/S 2010 haute couture: 3D printed, Manus x Machina

Manus x Machina explores the relationship between hand and machine in the creation of both one of a kind haute couture pieces and reproducible ready-to-wear fashion. From the invention of the sewing machine to the modern prevalence of 3D printers, the place for technology in the fashion arts has been a contentious debate. At OESH shoes we understand the struggle to discover and decide what is better done by hand and what is best left to machines.

Machines like the laser cutter and 3D printers that we use to create our Athena Sandals are excellent at repeating movements and tasks. The straps are cut and sealed by the laser at the exact length we specify, down to the millimeter, and our 3D printed soles contain perfect hexagonal springs, we are incapable of producing any other way. There are limitations to machines however, which is why the final assembly of the shoes must be done by hand.

As humans, our hands are excellent and versatile tools for making. By hand we can easily work in 6 axis, which means we can work on a point in 3 dimensions at any angle, while the 3D printer only has 3 axis (x, y, and z) and the laser cutter only has two (x and y). Not only can we pick up a sandal and flip it all around to attach the straps, we can also correct our work as we go. Based on what we see, we can change what we are doing, and correct mistakes, something our machines can’t do without us.

I wouldn’t worry about robots taking over the world just yet, but new improvements in 3D printing and 3D scanning in the near future can definitely help our hands make cooler and smarter designs.

To see our hands and machines at work making Athena sandals, check out the time-lapse videos we made of the soles 3D printing and of the sandals being assembled.

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