If your job involves continuously running in the shortest time possible you’re going to have an acute awareness of every single part of your shoe; how comfortable it is, how durable it is and how much it aids performance, 3D printing is here to improve all of those. Nike launched their 3D printed football cleats last month with the backing of US Olympic star Michael Johnson.
Taking Nike’s 3D printing baton is New Balance, whose team of Olympians is much more vast than Nike’s but perhaps not as famous, To help in the customisation process of their they’ve enlisted the services of 2008 and 2012 US Olympic Athlete and current 1500m World Champion gold medalist Jenny Barringer Simpson, 2012 US Olympic Athlete Kim Conley, 2012 Great Britain Olympic Athlete Barbara Parker and 4 time All-American runner in the 800m, 1500m and the Mile Jack Bolas.
As Nike discovered, the ability to produce, previously unattainable shapes, using the SLS process has great advantages for the long distance runner, "With 3D printing we are able to pursue performance customisation at a new level to help our elite NB athletes and eventually all athletes. We believe this is the future of performance footwear and we are excited to bring this to consumers," says New Balance President and CEO Robert DeMartini. "As the only major athletic brand to manufacture shoes in the U.S., we are proud to invest in American workers. Developing our printing capabilities could ultimately help us further invest in the American worker by adding highly technical positions to our already skilled labour force in Massachusetts and Maine."
Though this current process is only for elite athletes, if it proves successful it will not be long until amateur enthusiasts are shelling out to have the same shoes that their heroes wear.