Soft Shoe Routine

When we travel, our mode of transportation is almost as important as our destination. Whether we're on our own two feet or seated aboard a jumbo jet, our level of comfort during travel can affect our health. Although shoe designs have changed, the need for a pair that is both functional and aesthetically-pleasing has remained constant. Recently, cutting-edge technologies have been meeting this need in a variety of unexpected ways.

My Adidas

For someone embarking on their first workout, simply choosing the right gear can be a daunting task. People frequently find themselves faced with a seemingly endless array of options. Of course, the choice is clear when the shoe is custom-made for your foot.

custom-made shoe
Image via Gizmodo.

One of the largest shoemakers in the world wants to make you a shoe designed to fit like a glove. Adidas has partnered with Belgian manufacturer Materialise to create a new custom running shoe, the FutureCraft 3D. This 3D-printed shoe is designed to fit the specs of the user's foot. According to a recent press release, the shoe "creates a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete's own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points." Although Adidas' shoe comes after that of rival Nike, which allows for 3D shoe-printing in one's own home, the FutureCraft 3D is the first to be designed around the user.

Nature Walk

There's no shortage of environmentally-friendly clothing materials. Nevertheless, it can be a task to find clothing that is not only environmentally-friendly, but strong and comfortable. That was the challenge one French shoe company decided to face head-on.

shoes on rocky terrain
Image via Wired

Sébastien Kopp and Francois Ghislain Morillion founded Veja in the mid-2000s with the sole purpose of creating athletic shoes in an ethically responsible way, using fair-trade labor and environmentally-friendly materials to create them. The company makes their shoes in their factory in Brazil and emphasizes making them visually appealing for potential buyers. As a reporter for Wired magazine put it, "Veja's brand of eco-friendly doesn't look eco-friendly."

Long Journey Ahead

We humans have been tinkering with shoes almost as long as we've been able to walk. The practicality of shoes makes them a perfect target for technological innovation. Ubiquitous as shoes are, their technological evolution will doubtless be felt the world over.

Large Format Printing and Custom Wallpaper Murals

wallpaper mural

Sometimes your home printer just doesn't cut it for certain printing needs! For those larger scale,high-resolution jobs, it's wise to hire the professionals, who specialize in large format printing. This printing style, along with its photographic equivalent, provides up to 16 times the resolution of standard 35mm film, making it especially well-suited for wallpaper, banners, or other signage for businesses, restaurants, sports venues, or lobbies.

Large format custom wallpaper murals can range in size from under 100 square feet to over 250 square feet, meaning that no matter the size of the banner you need, these printers are able to make it for you. Typically pricing ranges from around $7.00 per square foot for the smaller jobs to around $5.25 per square foot for those jobs over 250 square feet. Though these wallpaper murals are an investment, because they're printed on fade-resistant UV inks, they can last indefinitely.

So how, exactly, are these wallpaper murals made? First, the customer needs to supply the digital image. Though the higher the resolution, the clearer the image quality, any digital camera larger than 6 megapixels on the highest setting will work just fine. Using digital imaging software, technicians reformat and retouch the image to ensure the sharpest image possible for printing.

Once the image is appropriately retouched for printing, a large format printer is selected that can accommodate the correct image size. If you look at these HP models, for instance, you can see that range in size and volume (how quickly the images can be printed). Often times these commercial printers can cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the model.

As we mentioned above, by using UV-resistant inks, you can greater increase the lifespan of your wallpaper. By not using UV-resistant ink, it's likely that any signage in direct sunlight will fade in just a few months. The type of surface that the image is printed on depends upon your needs. If you think you might want to reuse or reposition wallpaper, selecting the removable wallpaper with an adhesive backing is a better choice. This can made out of either fabric or vinyl, the latter material being recommended when budget is a concern. For projects with heavy use of black ink, a smooth wallpaper requiring permanent installation will give the best results.

One of our friends, Mega Print Inc., is a large format printing company we'd recommend. They also use PVC-free wallpaper, which is more environmentally sustainable. Though PVC is one of the most commonly used sign materials since the mid-1900s, it is not biodegradable or recyclable, and is therefore not a material we would use in our large format printing needs.

If you have any other questions about large format printing, or want to share your best idea for a wallpaper mural, don't hesitate to enter your comment below!

How Printing Can Be Green

It's no surprise to most that home or office printing is not friendly to the environment. Beyond the obvious amount of paper waste, many types of printers use complex internal printing mechanisms and ink cartridges that produce a lot of added waste. As the two groups forming the Environment Industry Associations report, every year 300 million empty cartridges get added into the waste stream. Because it takes 1 gallon of oil to produce a single ink cartridge, the environmental impact is enormous.

eco-friendly

However, with advances made to printer quality, recycling, and awareness over printing practices, your printing experience doesn't have to wreck the environment in the process. Printing green also has an added benefit--efficiency. With more efficient practices, you'll save yourself money in the process. The following tips are intended to be starting points for thinking about what impact your home or office practices have.

  • Print double-sided on post-consumer recycled paper. It seems like a no-brainer to print on both sides of a sheet of paper, but surprisingly few people do it. By using double-sided printing, you instantly reduce your paper waste by half. At the same time, it's important to find post-consumer recycled paper, meaning the paper is made of recycled pulp from other consumer products. Many stores like Staples or Office Max will have Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) labels to indicate these practices have been verified.
  • Print on the lowest quality ink setting, except in necessary occasions. Factory printer settings typically aren't set up for the lowest quality ink setting, but unless you are printing professional color documents or photographs, there is no need to print outside of the 'draft' setting. You can significantly reduce how quickly you use up the existing ink in your cartridge.
  • When shopping for a new printer, consider ENERGY STAR labels and intended usage. Like the FSC labeling paper products, ENERGY STAR labels consumer and professional electronics and appliances on how effectively they use energy. When shopping, be sure to look for the distinct light blue logo. Thinking about intended use is a good consideration when making a printer purchase. One of the first questions to ask is, "Do I need to print only in black and white or color?" Monochrome printers use only one ink cartridge, reducing waste, whereas color printers can have four or more separate cartridges that can increase waste.
  • Recycle your cartridges! This is the single most effective way of reducing cartridge waste. When throwing out a cartridge in the trash, it'll likely end up spending decades in a landfill. With increasingly sophisticated methods for repurposing old cartridges, there is really no reason not to. Earth911 even has a search for companies that re-purpose cartridges by city.
  • Ask yourself, "Do I really need to print this?" While we are an ink and toner business, we also want to make sure you're printing only what you need. With new digital systems for reading, signing, and storing documents, printing out items, especially related to work, may not be necessary. Consider synching email, documents, photographs, or other items to your smartphone, tablet, or reading device to save on printing output.
  • Finally, and perhaps easiest of all, power off and unplug your printer when not in use. Unless you expect a busy day of high-use printing, having a printer on and/or plugged in uses a lot of residual energy. This will help reduce your monthly electric bill as well.

Though these are just some of the tips we have for printing in a more eco and wallet friendly way, there are many other tips we haven't included. Leave your favorite green printing trick below.

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