3D CAD for footwear
October 24, 2011

3D CAD for footwear

Delcam Crispin launches integrated 3D CAD for footwear, blending design and engineering.
Delcam Crispin recently launched its ShoeMaker CAD software for designing all types of footwear at the SIMAC exhibition Bologna, Italy. ShoeMaker is believed to be the first program to integrate the 3D design of uppers and soles, thereby allowing the complete shoe to be developed and visualised in a single system. While the integrated system will benefit all footwear designers, it will be particularly advantageous for companies making sports shoes and other designs that include complex soles.

ShoeMaker offers an easy-to-learn interface, making it ideal for concept designers that might come from an artistic rather than engineering background. All the icons feature specific footwear imagery, making the software intuitive to use. However, in the background, ShoeMaker runs Delcam’s PowerShape CAD system, allowing the most complex design challenges to be tackled successfully.

The design process is made both faster and easier by the large library of data supplied with the software. This includes materials of different types and colors, plus accessories, including eyelets, buckles, and zips. Users can add their own materials and accessories to the libraries, thereby developing a dedicated database for all the company’s designers to access.

Having the complete design within a single model is particularly beneficial when grading the initial design for the range of sizes that will be manufactured. Since all the components are contained in a single file, grading can be done in a single operation.  It is much more difficult to match the elements if the last, upper, and sole are graded separately. The results will be more aesthetically pleasing, as it will be possible to match the feature lines within the design. More consistent grading also improves accuracy during assembly and, therefore, the durability of the shoe.

All ShoeMaker designs are produced in an industry-standard solid-model format, so they can be passed easily to other programs--for example, for high-level rendering of images. Most other design systems for footwear use triangle-based file formats, which can be more difficult to read into other systems. They also can have problems in representing highly curved surfaces accurately, resulting in faceting. ShoeMaker is further compatible with the complete range of Delcam Crispin software for 2D and 3D manufacturing, including the programs for costing, material cutting, mold-making, and inspection.  

ShoeMaker is flexible in the ways that designs can be created within the software. In addition, a Wacom screen can be used for sketching designs into the system. Alternatively, hand sketches or images from Adobe Illustrator can be read into the software and wrapped onto a last to create the 3D representation.

The resulting designs can be used to give both realistic images and true engineering data. There is, therefore, no need to remodel concept designs to produce detailed information for downstream manufacturers. A single file can be used for each complete project, from initial concept design through to mass production. This makes data management and project planning much simpler, allowing faster introduction of new designs with greater confidence that the designer’s intent is captured in the finished footwear.