Shoes have a habit of captivating the 3D printing world. From couture designs to a faster sprinting shoe, 3D printed shoes promise a customized “wow” factor along with some conveniences like doubling as a smartphone case.New Zealand-based designer Earl Stewart, who is also the Creative Director of OPZone Connect, designed shoes as part of his master’s thesis project (in design, under the supervision of Ross Stevens) from Victoria University of Wellington. The shoes are 3D printed in whole or in part.The XYZ 151 shoe was formed using a Stratasys Objet Connex multi-material 3D Printer which delivered the perfect balance of flexibility and rigidity. This airy, minimalist design actually breaks out into six different “mixed material” pieces. The ability to print both rigid and rubber-like materials simultaneously and also fine tune them is a shining feature of Connex 3D printing technology! Stewart was able to produce the best combination of protection and durability. Users’ feet are 3D scanned to input precise measurements into the final product.Think these minimalist shoes aren’t meant for you? Not so fast! Some physiologists believe that less cushioning for the feet is actually more beneficial for the body. Thinner soles allow humans to be more “in touch” with their environment and adjust their bio-mechanics accordingly.