Innovation & Footwear: 3D printing becomes a reality worldwide. From the USA to the Brenta Polytechnic

The future of sneakers? 3D. Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Under Armour, Reebok, are some of the biggest names in footwear that have decided to adopt the 3D printing technology for their products. The synthetic material produced with the next-generation of printers will allow the implementation of sneakers’ high technical performances. Adidas has focused its efforts on the 3D Futurecraft, a running shoe printed in three sizes and fully customisable. Nike has focused on extreme personalisation with the NikeiD Lab. New Balance has worked on the soles with Fresh Foam Zante, an in-house produced material used to make the midsole which replaced the previous technique of moulding injection of the foam. The US-Brand, Under Armour, has launched his own limited-edition line of 3D printed shoes as well as, UA Architect, a high- performance training shoes also equipped with a 3D midsole. The last brand, in order of time, to focus on 3D printing has been Reebok with a ‘liquid material’. Because of this new technology, the US giant has decided to bring back under the US flag the production of its lines opening a factory in Lincoln, called the ‘Liquid Factory’. 3D printing is also changing Reebok’s business model resulting in the reduction of its outsourcing to Asian countries. Initially, the Lincoln factory will produce the “Liquid Speed”, an energy return-focused running shoe that also brings the outsole and lacing together in one piece. In the near future, Reebok announced that it will experience other printing processes in order to boost customisation. The race to the 3D printing is not only a Stars and Stripes’ prerogative. Last September, Italian Politecnico Calzaturiero of Riviera del Brenta started FFlab, digital laboratory specialising on new 3D scanning and 3D printing technologies. The footwear components are designed with a 3D CAD technology and then printed in 3D with German x400 PRO V3 provided by the authorised dealer of 3D printers and 3D scanners, 3DZ. Another method used for 3D prototypes is the Reverse Engineering, a technique in which the final digital file is the result of the scanning of a real object that consequently can then be edited and reprinted.


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