Clothes shopping can be frustrating for people with uncommon shapes or understocked sizes; you rarely find what you want, and when you do, it rarely fits 100 percent comfortably. 3D printing may change the nature of the retail experience for that group — and for retailers who can’t always predict what their customers want.
“A lot of people are passionate about this tech,” says Fatma Baytar, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s department of fiber science and apparel design. “People are trying different ways to make it user friendly. It’s a neat idea.”
Some companies are already experimenting with 3D printing in the manufacturing process. Adidas began making customizable, 3D-printed midsoles for its running shoes in 2015 and is now using an advanced version of 3D printing that creates a finished product with more consistent quality and durability.