Shoe design gives UB students win in international 3-D printing competition

The students' winning design features illustrations of a world map, a dove, olive leaves and the peace symbol. Credit: Dhruvay Jain

Release Date: May 16, 2016

“What appears to be a simple shoe design actually involved extensive research and design challenges.”
Dhruvay Jain, student in industrial and systems engineering
University at Buffalo

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Members of the winning student team and their faculty advisers. Credit: Fan Yang

The students' winning design features illustrations of a world map, a dove, olive leaves and the peace symbol. Credit: Dhruvay Jain

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A design for a custom-fit shoe has earned a team of University at Buffalo students first place in the 2016 Singapore International 3-D Printing Competition.

The contest, organized by the Singapore Centre for 3-D Printing at Nanyang Technological University, promotes awareness and adoption of 3-D printing technologies. This year’s assignment required competitors to use 3-D printing technology to fabricate fashionable and functional eyewear or shoes.

The five graduate students from the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — Dhruvay Jain, Priyanka Nikam, Hardik Gandhi and Anshika Chourdhary, all in the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISE), and Weihao Qu of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) — got together to design and create a shoe tailored with the right feel, fit and form to a person’s unique preferences and needs.

The team was guided by ISE faculty members Chi Zhou and Lora Cavuoto, CSE faculty member Wenyao Xu and CSE research scientist Feng Lin.     

The final product was a 2-in-1 shoe that is customized to the user’s foot profile with added comfort, durability, functionality and aesthetics. The shoe is designed to be worn as a sandal or as a closed shoe with the use of a simple slide-in system.

The students say they selected the name of the shoe project — “Peace — art meets technology to shape a better future” — to convey a message of world peace. The design features illustrations of a world map, a dove, olive leaves and the peace symbol to help convey that message.

“We feel it’s extremely important to communicate a message through our products that resonates with the masses and has a social relevance, too,” says Jain, who led the team effort and is in Singapore this week to receive the prize at a May 17 awards ceremony at the Nanyang Executive Centre at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

Team members say they began working on the project in November, months ahead of its April 8 deadline, and spent much of their time engrossed in it. The hard work paid off, as they won the competition, which includes a top prize of $10,000.

“What appears to be a simple shoe design actually involved extensive research and design challenges,” says Jain. “We were motivated to add functionalities to the footwear and re-design the conventional, generic shoe designs.”  

As one of the group’s mentors, Zhou, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering, watched the team take advantage of the unique features of 3-D printing, such as high flexibility, multi-functionality and high complexity, to construct their final product.       

“The participation and success of the team not only enhanced the national and international visibility of UB in the emerging field of advanced design and manufacturing,” says Zhou, “it also facilitated international education and promoted the innovation and creativity of the next generation.”  

The students say winning the competition has encouraged them to consider applying 3-D printing to other fields, such as health care.

Jain notes that the 3-D printing technology enables the students to “bring our creative thoughts to life. It brings together art and technology to produce some novel innovations that can pave the way for a better future.”        

Adds Zhou, “With this new technology, the only limitation is our imagination and innovation.”

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Charlotte Hsu
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