How 3D-Printed Shoe Innovator Zellerfeld Is Hoping to ‘Demolish’ Traditional Footwear Production Barriers

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Over one year after launching the beta version of its open platform where consumers could shop a selection of 3D-printed shoe designs, Zellerfeld is ready for what comes next.

On Tuesday, the Hamburg, Germany-based 3D-printed footwear tech company announced it has moved its platform out of beta and is now ready to fully launch what it’s calling the “YouTube of Shoes,” where nearly anyone can upload a design on Zellerfeld’s platform and get their shoes produced.

Zellerfeld co-founder and chief executive officer Cornelius Schmitt told FN in an interview that the launch comes after producing over 10,000 pairs of shoes from its beta program featuring shoe designs from brands like Moncler, Chris Brown, KidSuper and Heron Preston.

“What we learned from our beta program are important operational functions like how to produce and ship tens of thousands of shoes, how to do customer support and how to make sure our shoes fit,” Schmitt said. “So now we’re ready to launch the future of footwear where anyone in the world can upload a 3D model to our website and offer it only for purchase within a day.”

Through this new program Schmitt emphasized that designers and brands are now able to rapidly bring new concepts to market, while consumers can access a diverse, ever-expanding range of footwear. The CEO noted that for the platform aims to “demolish traditional financial and logistical barriers” when creating footwear, allowing real-time experimentation and product refinement. Thanks to Zellerfeld’s design parameters and printing capabilities, development times that once spanned 12 to 18 months are now reduced to mere days.

“Imagine a world where any designer, no matter their resources, can manifest their vision and reach a global audience,” Schmitt said. “Consumers will step into an era where footwear innovation is the norm, not the exception. After decades of stale re-releases, superficial updates and color-ups – let’s make footwear exciting again. Our platform empowers creators to shatter design boundaries, experiment without fear, and innovate sustainably. This is truly a revolution, and we are at the forefront, leading the charge against sweatshops and outdated manufacturing methods. We call on brands to join us and help drive this transformation.”

Zellerfeld’s open platform launches with the integration of Zellerfeld Studio, which offers designers cutting-edge tools to order samples and bring creations to market at lightning speed. To first submit a design, though, creators must submit their plans the company’s Discord where automated systems will work to verify files and create Zellerfeld Studio accounts for approved designs. These designs will then live on where consumers can shop each style in a new marketplace for footwear.

So how does the company make money under this new business model? There are two distinct ways. On the consumer side, Zellerfeld is selling production slots to customers for $10 each. Once they obtain a slot, consumers can add as many styles to their order until their production batch has begun, and will then be charged the remaining cost of the shoe once the shoes are ready to be shipped. This system will allow users to reserve a place in the production queue and secure printed shoes, save the slot for later, or change shoes depending on what’s released, Schmitt said.

Zellerfeld, 3d printed shoes, footwear, shoe designs
Zellerfeld, 3d printed shoes, footwear, shoe designs

The CEO added that the lower barrier of entry on the consumer side is also a way for the company to raise funds to add more 3D printers to its Hamburg production facility in order to meet demand and scale its print farm.

On the brand side, Zellerfeld will share a compelling 60-40 profit split with each designer – taking home 40 percent of the sale for cost of production, shipping and other services provided.

“Everything we’ve done culminates in this moment,” Schmitt said. “We’ve sharpened our technology and processes through alliances with industry titans to unleash an open platform that reinvents footwear. This isn’t just a launch; it’s an all-out revolution. We’re here to obliterate the old guard and rebuild footwear from the ground up and are not stopping until we succeed.”

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