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UnisBrands: Penn State student startup 3D prints customized shoes (

Feb 14, 2018 | By Tess

Nicholas Unis, a young entrepreneur and student at Penn State University, has transformed his passion for footwear (and sneakers in particular) into a unique business idea. The finance and accounting student is the founder of UnisBrands, a fashion label that designs, produces, and sells 3D printed shoes.

Even as a young man, Unis already has significant experience in the footwear world, having worked for a shoe store in high school, and in customizing and reselling shoes on the Internet (until Nike requested he stop).

Since then, he has channeled his shoe business ambitions into something much less controversial: 3D printed shoes. Notably, he has even designed his own customized 3D printer, after finding that existing models were not meeting his requirements.

The 3D printing technology, which is currently patent pending, is reportedly capable of 3D printing sneakers in just three parts: sole, upper, and tongue. Unis plans to use the technology to create various styles of shoe (including sneakers, sandals, and more) with customized colors, patterns, and sizes.

For the sizing, Unis relies on a special algorithm which uses the client’s individual foot dimensions (length and width) and generates a “perfect fit” 3D model. “It’s going to fit you perfectly because both feet aren’t the same size,” he explained.

Once the technology is fully up-and-running, Unis also plans to have a rapid turnaround time for custom orders. His goal is to have the 3D printed shoes shipped within 24 to 72 hours of the order being placed.

Currently, the UnisBrands website features one 3D printed shoe model dubbed the U-1 Mirror. Clients are invited to choose their preferred color scheme (for the sole, upper, and accents) and input their foot sizes.

And while the selection is limited in terms of 3D printed shoe styles right now, Unis does plan to expand his company’s offering in the near future. His next project will be to design and introduce a Birkenstock-inspired sandal for the summer season.

Presently, UnisBrands is operating from within the Happy Valley Launchbox, a coworking space for promising startups in State College, PA. In the long term, the brand’s founder hopes to set up 3D printing factories across Pennsylvania to meet order demands and keep all his production local.

Another possible avenue, says the young entrepreneur, is to partner with organizations like Penn State, the NCAA, or even Disney for licensing agreements to produce customized branded 3D printed shoes.