3D printing has had a big impact on the design of shoes for this year’s Olympics in Rio, with direct input from athletes themselves.
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will compete in the women’s 100m and 4x100m relay at the Olympics this month wearing Nike spikes which she helped design, called the Zoom Superfly Elite.
Shane Kohatsu, Nike’s design director, says the shoe will provide runners with the right amount of support while helping them to run faster and withstanding all the power exerted during a 100m race.
3D printing played a large part in the development of prototypes for the final design for the Zoom Superfly Elite, which over 100 Nike-sponsored athletes will wear at the Olympics.
How can 3D Printing Enhance the Olympics?
Over twenty plates were tested by Nike before they decided to build the Zoom Superfly Elite without the screw-in spikes normally found on a sprinter’s footwear, using fixed pins on the bottom of the plate instead.
However, Kohatsu said: “For us right now, 3D printing is all about accelerating the project, the innovation process. The 3D printing industry isn’t at a place where it can replace mass production techniques. We use it for what it’s best at doing, which is accelerating prototyping.”
However, this isn’t the only example of 3D printing being used for footwear this Olympics. For Michael Phelps’ latest Olympic journey, he will be bringing a special pair of Under Armour’s new training shoe, the Architech.
These limited edition shoes with a 3D printed midsole quickly sold out in March, but Phelps’ shoe is special for a more personal reason; on the outside is a tiny black footprint of his son. Boomer Phelps will turn 3 months old when the games open on Friday in Rio de Janeiro.
If you’re interested in either of these designs, Under Armour says a new color of the Architech will be available as a limited edition in August on the company’s website and at its Brand House stores.
While the Zoom Superfly Elite will reach stores in October, or you can watch them in action when Fraser-Pryce races in the women’s 100-meter preliminaries on August 12th.
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