We've already seen plenty of impressive uses for 3D printers in the past, including a 3D-printed skull implant and even a 3D-printed titanium bike. And now there's an affordable way to forge your very own trainers without having to leave home.
The secret lies in 3D-printing company Recreus's new flexible plastic filament. While most plastic 3D printer filaments are flexible once heated, they rapidly cool once they've left the nozzle during the printing process, resulting in hard, brittle objects with zero flexibility.
Recreus' new filament however retains its flexibility, making it an ideal candidate for objects such as trainers which need to provide a free range of motion to be of any use.
While MakerBot owner Stratasys has revealed flexible 3D-printed shoes before, it uses a very expensive US$330,000 printer with a blend of plastic and rubber materials to offer different levels of flexibility.
Recreus' filament on the other hand can be used with almost all existing printers, making it a far more accessible choice for tinkerers without commercial-grade 3D-printing monster machines taking up their entire garage.
Recreus has provided a free download file for users to print out their very own flexible trainers, though we wouldn't recommend running around in them two much, unless you want your feet to bake in their non-ventilated shell.
It's more of a proof of concept than a viable alternative to proper trainers, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.
Trainers are of course just one of hundreds of potential uses for flexible 3D-printed materials. From gloves to wristbands to belts and replacement camera straps, the possibilities are vast, and very exciting indeed.
Available in a choice of colours, Recreus' new flexible filament can be snapped up from here.