The article first appeared on WT VOX.
NIKE 3D PRINTED SHOES – THE REVOLUTION OF 3D PRINTING
3D printing has incredible potential in the production of sneakers. It allows brands to create prototypes faster than ever and be able to devise new styles and get them to market. Adidas’s Futurecraft 4D sneakers are one of the first examples of such products. However, as a prototype, these sneakers have released to the public in limited numbers.
To date, sneaker companies have focused their 3D-printing efforts on sneaker midsoles. But, on the 17th of April, Nike announced a novel way of using the technique. It says it has made the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear, called Flyprint.
NIKE 3D PRINTED SHOES – FLYPRINT AS A NEW TECHNIQUE
Flyprint can be achieved through a process called solid deposit modeling. As the company explains, the thermoplastic filament (TPU) “is unwound from a coil, melted and laid down in layers”. Nike developed the specific printing process by modifying existing machines and claims the method allows it to precisely engineer the textile as it wants.
Traditional fabrics are woven or knit out of interlocking yarns. However, Flyprint is a lattice of fused material, each line of which can be moved independently as Nike wants. Using computational design based on running data it collected from athletes, Nike determined how Flyprint should be structured to best support a runner’s foot. Despite being plastic, the material is stretchy and flexible, not stiff, and can adapt to your foot, like Nike Flyknit—only Nike says it’s lighter and more breathable than any of its previous textiles.
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