Hilos just secured a $3 million investment round that includes funding from longtime Nike executives and VC firms Better Ventures, Builders VC and XRC Labs.

Ever since it started its journey in the additive manufacturing of footwear, the Oregon-based company has been on a mission to demonstrate how AM can add value to the footwear industry – especially when it comes to circularity.

In its first report, the company explains that in a context where the global environmental footprint of the footwear industry adds up to a total of 249.1 billion kg CO2, of which the EU accounts for around10 billion kg CO2, the use of AM may lead to a 48% reduction in carbon and a 99% reduction in water usage compared to legacy manufacturing, saving nearly 2,000 gallons of water and over 20 lbs (9Kg) of CO2e per pair.

With 3D printing process, the commercialization is almost on-demand – with no stock: when a customer purchases a shoe, they make another one available in a matter of days. The shoes are made from TPU, or thermoplastic polyurethane, that is made from 80% recycled material. 100% of this TPU can be reused. It makes uppers from leather or knit material.

“We developed a new way to make shoes so that the moment a customer buys, or someone walks off out of the store with something, we make and resupply that product within 72 hours,” Hilos CEO and cofounder Elias Stahl said. “We’re now fulfilling at the speed as if something was made in advance and sitting in a distribution center.”

A single 3D printer can make over 500 pairs of shoes a month. Hilos has access to “dozens and dozens” of printers, Stahl said, as it gets ready to scale.

“Anytime you can drive disruption in an industry like footwear, it’s really difficult to do,” former Nike exec. Greg Bui comments. “No one in the industry is working on serving the consumer radically differently. And if you can serve the consumer differently, that’s a compelling proposition.”

Listen to HILOS discuss the best practices to leverage AM in the consumer goods industry.

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