Superior Performance Leveraged Through 3D Printing

On February 2nd, friends and family across the country will gather together to watch the biggest televised event of the year, the Super Bowl.  Zealous fans in every corner of the nation (and their less enthusiastic counterparts) will ride the rollercoaster of emotion that is football, cringing with every fumble and touting every touchdown, all the while, attempting to sublimate their nervous excitement with pizza and wings. Most likely, the last things onlookers will notice are the shoes on those players’ feet. However, those cleats just might make all the difference and 3D Printing played an unprecedented role in their development.
3d printing shoes

Nike’s Elite Cleats

This year Nike, a longtime customer of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, has released the Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Cleat as part of their Nike Silver Speed Collection for this year’s Super Bowl XLVIII.  This shoe is the first cleat influenced by and developed from Nike’s 3D printing lab. At the center of this creation is a modified “V Plate” that allows the shoe to better adapt to natural movements on the turf without slipping, especially at the “zero step”.

The first generation of this “V Plate” was manufactured for the Vapor Laser Talon cleat using Laser Sintering, a thermal 3D printing process using nylon thermoplastic powder. It was worn by 7 of the top 10 fastest athletes at last year’s 2013 NFL Combine, including Marquise Goodwin, former wide-receiver for The University of Texas. An especially proud moment for the University of Texas, as the birthplace of Laser Sintering, to see Goodwin place 1st in the 40-yard dash.

 

 

 

Galvanized by the success of their cleat at the Combine, Nike quickly pushed forward with the development of the Elite Cleat. They capitalized on the ability to rapidly produce further prototypes using laser sintering, thus greatly reducing the design and development cycle. This expedited the time to market for Nike, giving them the ability to release this shoe in time for Super Bowl XLVIII.

This is an extraordinary example of how 3D printing technology has not just aided, but advanced development for this retail giant.

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