No matter how much advanced technologies are used in footwear manufactory nowadays, for instance, one piece knitted upper reduces most stitchings to be assembled, direct injection footwear reduce upper assembling altogether, a whole 3D printed sole could cut down manufactory time to half and manual labor to zero. However, all these technologies can only produce certain types of unique footwear styles. Most footwear still requires the essential human hand work. (At least for now, until automation manufactory one day completely replacing human operations. Well, comparing to one of The Twilight Zone episodes, we are much closer to have this dream or nightmare becomes a reality.)
As a designer in modern world, understanding and keeping updated knowledge on technology advancements is part of my job. After years and years of visiting factories, I have summarized below must have steps of pure human hand work in shoe making. These seemingly outdated human hand operations are what makes shoe design and making and the entire footwear industry so damn interesting.
Our hands can produce so much variety types of shoes (products) at the same time while each single operation requires one set of technology driven machines to operate. I say, human trumps technology and machine is not a question but a statement.
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