Innovation Alert – 3D Printed Performance Footwear
By Clare Varga

The 3D printing process has finally made it’s way into performance footwear and onto the athlete’s foot.

Mar 07, 2013


The world of fashion and industrial design have seen 3D printing in multiple uses, especially recently. It’s now possible to buy mini 3D printers for personal use, and many companies are even offering custom products built to please. This one-of-a-kind technology has been ground-breaking, and finally it’s made its way into performance footwear.

Last week, Nike announced the first 3D printed plate on a football cleat – the Nike Vapor Laser Talon. The cleat is a mere 5.6 oz and built specifically to take on the 40-yard dash. Through intensive testing with the Nike SPARQ team and professional sprinter Michael Johnson, and utilizing Selective Laser Sintering technology (SLS) they built the first plate of its kind in the sport.

“SLS technology has revolutionized the way we design cleat plates – even beyond football – and gives Nike the ability to create solutions that were not possible within the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes,” said Shane Kohatsu, Director of Nike Footwear Innovation.

New Balance broke into the market in January providing the first 3D printed plate on a track spike, allowing for ultimate customization. Athlete Jack Bolas ran an indoor mile as the first professional athlete to compete in a race with 3D printed equipment. Also utilizing SLS technology, New Balance did thorough testing directly with Bolas during the research and development process ensuring it was perfectly tuned to his individual needs.

We can’t wait to see what this could mean for athlete customization within the world of sport and how it will advance performance. Stay tuned for more innovation to come in our full report in the beginning of April!

-Erin Mintun 

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