Born to Run

Brooks Running Uses Connex3 3D Printer for Rapid Prototyping

Brooks Running

Everything at Brooks Running can now “Run Happy” thanks to the implementation of a Connex3 3D printer which is speeding up prototyping.

Seattle based Brooks Running is all about helping joggers to pick up their pace. But until recently, their prototyping system hadn’t been — ahem — running smoothly.

With the slogan “Run Happy” and a workforce of runners (including the CEO), it was essential to improve the design process. Not least because it would allow employees more time for exercising and less time stressing over delayed prototypes.

As the company is regularly working on two or three seasons of shoe designs at once, they often found themselves rushing when design files were all ready for printing.

To print the prototypes, the company relied on a local service bureau. However, this regularly resulted in a tricky situation with a lot of waiting around and missed deadlines.

As design validation is one of the largest components of the business, streamlining the process was necessary. Part of the design validation process involves testing product fit and functionality but also testing out the overall design. Due to this, design changes are regularly made and a quick change in concept is necessary.

The solution to the problem of outsourcing came down to investing in an industrial 3D printer for in-house use. The company chose a Connex3 3D printer to help manage the rush and aid the prototyping process. They haven’t looked back since, and are saving a lot of money and stress while avoiding rush fees.

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Benefits for Brooks Running Prototyping Onsite

The company estimates that they are saving between $500 to $800 per shoe during the design iteration process thanks to the in-house 3D printer.

Their process — which involves designers creating seasonal models, sending them to Asia for conversion to CAD files, then assessing the final model before printing — hugely benefits from the quick turnaround.

After printing the shoe, designers can assess the design further and make tweaks and changes as needed. Now, with the Connex3, it’s possible to print up to five outsole, midsole combination prototypes all at the same time.

Needless to say, the company are pleased with the results. Kenny Krotzer, associate footwear developer at Brooks, explains:

“We’ve seen the number of project delays drastically reduced thanks to our eight-hour print time. Even with redesign, we can get files, prototypes and review them all within a 10-hour span. Design validation literally takes half the time with our 3D printer.”

As Brooks shoes are more in demand than ever and purchasing seasons become tighter, these time savings and ability to control every step of the prototyping process counts for a lot.

The multi-material printer is receiving great praise from the company and thanks to the technology, customers and employees can continue to “run happy”.

Source: Stratasys

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