Jul 25, 2023
by Karl Smith
Reebok and Botter’s 3D-Printed Slide Could Be The Birth of Something Great
by Karl Smith
Jul 25, 2023

Having debuted their latest collaborative effort at Paris Fashion Week earlier this year, sportswear giant Reebok and progressive fashion label Botter continue to put progressive footwear designs front and center.

Named for the ocean-dwelling sea snail of the same name, the unique silhouette of the co-branded Venus Comb Murex mimics the natural patterns and angles of its namesake marine gastropod – although, in this case, presumably for reasons of functionality and safety, without the distinctive spikes. And, having started life as a sneaker, the style has now found its way to another seasonally-appropriate and thematically-aligned footwear form: that bastion of poolside leisure, the slide.

Of course, it’s not just the “What?” that makes these undulating pieces of art-cum-footwear worth a mention – it’s also the “How?”. And, in this case, that means a low-impact 3D-printing process utilizing the latest technology from probably the only printing company you could consider a household name – Hewlett Packard.

Using HP’s state of the art Multi Jet Fusion Printer technology – the same technology harnessed by Astral Labs to build its Voyager 001-A Mule – the Venus Comb Murex slide, like its sneaker cousin, is created through a process that fuses together layers of TPU to build a three-dimensional shape.

Now, if you’re thinking that TPU – which, for the uninitiated, stands for thermoplastic polyurethane and is very much a petro-based plastic material – isn’t exactly planet-forward, then you’re right. Of course. No: in and of itself, TPU isn’t particularly progressive – although it is more durable, flexible and versatile than plain old PU, making it a less likely candidate for being instantly discarded.

Used in the right way, however, it can prove to be a more sustainable option. With little post-printing work required and the printing itself happening in a single process, the Venus Comb Murex uses only the materials required to build it – there’s no cut-off, no excess, no wastage to be found. It’s a process that offers an answer – if not really quite a longterm solution – to one of the biggest issues when it comes to plastic-based products: where the leftovers end up and what kind of damage they do along the way.

In this case, at least, there’ll be nothing dumped in landfill or heading out into the oceans. Which, given the stylistic narrative, feels like a fair tribute to the real Venus Comb Murex. And, of course, a step in the right direction.

You can take a closer look at the Reebok x Botter Venus Comb Murex slide in the images and video above. And – if this kind of things piques your interest – why not check out what forward-thinking 3D printer Zellerfeld and high-end outerwear brand Moncler have collaborated to create.