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Balena unveils biodegradable 3D printed shoes with Kitty Shukman

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Balena BioCir 3d Printed Roots Slide by Kitty Shukman Credits: Balena

Material science company Balena, which is developing advanced biodegradable polymer materials, has unveiled a 3D-printed footwear collaboration with designer Kitty Shukman.

Working with Balena's BioCir material, the first fully compostable and biodegradable elastomer for the fashion industry, Shukman has created a unique 3D-printed concept slide that is biodegradable to demonstrate and push the boundaries of 3D printing to advance the adoption of compostable, biodegradable and simultaneously durable materials.

Dubbed ‘Roots,’ the 3D-printed slide showcases branches and stems integrated on the upper section of the slides into the outsole, mimicking the organic wrapping of roots beneath the foot. Shukman has also intentionally designed the left and right shoes to have distinct characteristics to enhance the notion of roots growing organically over the feet.

Commenting on the project, Shukman said in a statement: "I continually strive to strike a balance between functionality, sustainability, and style, and working with the Balena team to envision this new design has helped me imagine a day when our fashion industry becomes truly circular.

"I hope to see 3D-printing continue to leave its mark as a unique, bold, and sustainable medium in the fashion industry on its way to becoming climate neutral."

The BioCir manufacturing process is highly scalable, explains Balena, and all products crafted with BioCir undergo a responsible end-of-life cycle through a biological recycling mechanism. This entails complete decomposition and biodegradation in an industrial compost facility, safely returning it to the earth – a circular process essential for a sustainable future.

David Roubach, founder and chief executive of Balena, added: "Partnering with Kitty to create a truly remarkable and circular product has underlined the magic that happens when you put the right material in the hands of the right designer.

"Our combined creative vision has taken the dream of sustainable, scalable 3D-printing another step forward, and we hope to see leading fashion brands take a step in the same direction in the near future."

Kitty Shukman
Sustainable Footwear