While 3D printing has been boosted for its tremendous advantage over other manufacturing techniques, when it comes to customization, people are utilizing the technology to its fullest potential. Most of the shoe manufacturing companies face surpassing claims from their customers to create more versatile footwear. Sportswear companies all over the world have shifted from normal procedures of shoe making to create something new with 3D printing much closer recently. Shoes companies like New Balance, Nike and Adidas have all analyzed using 3D printing to create shoes that are enhanced for highly active users which include 3D printed soles and components. With 3D printed shoes, sports industry titans like Nike, Adidas, and New Balance are continuously trying to edge each other out of the race, with commitment of more customization, comfort, and performance enhancement.
Under Armour an athletic wear designer and manufacturer has left all the giants of the race behind and come up with a new shoe. It has unveiled a new 3D printed shoe that is thinking even beyond the 3D printer. Powerful 3D design software from Autodesk is used for making it more unique. The limited edition Under Armour Architech is an advanced, multi-purpose shoe that is specifically designed for those customers who engage in many exercises and activities on a daily basis. To be launched later this month, it features a 3D printed lattice- structured midsole combined with ClutchFit auxetic upper. The 3D printed midsole is light weighted like the classic athletic shoe also it has enhanced stability that is usually reserved for specialized shoe. It provides a flexible and firm support and unmatched comfort. The outcome is a hybrid shoe which will eliminate the need for more than one type of shoe, and provide support and comfort for a range of training activities from heavy weight lifting to speed workout.
The shoe’s unique 3D printed structure of midsole was sole was assembled at Under Armour’s Baltimore headquarters. The structure was achieved by a combination of polymers and elastomers with generative designs along with printing technology. Autodesk Within, just released last year, is already being used to generatively design everything from medical implants to bridges and removing human error from the process. Autodesk Within software was used to generate midsole’s lettice-structure algorithmically on desired criteria namely, durability, flexibility and weight. The 3D model was then further enhanced using Autodesk Fusion 360 and 3Ds Max, emerging in a 3D lattice that is can neither designed nor realized without 3D design technology. Also classic manufacturing process like thermoplastic injection molding could be used, but using 3D printing led to a major cut down on costs. With rapid manufacturing of multiple prototypes, they were tested by more than 80 athletes to finalize the actual design.
Lately, Adidas, New Balance, Nike and also new players in the shoe market like Cobber Technologies have been discussing about their own 3D printed sports shoes, Under Armour has gone way beyond all these and actually launched their own 3D printed shoes. Under Armour’s approach is to deliver the product into customers’ hands as early as possible, get their feedback and accordingly make changes to move on to designing the next batch. More interestingly Under Armour chose to create a training shoe rather than a running shoe setting it apart from its competition.
The Limited edition UA Architech will be available later this month with a limited stock of just 96 pairs n the retail store located at their Baltimore corporate headquarters. Under Armour celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (launched in 1996) and its 3Dprinted shoe is a sign of success that they have come a long way. Each pair of the shoe will cost $300 approx. With next few months the company plans to unveil some more 3D printed shoes, making efforts to learn about the process and reach out for customer feedback, and ultimately refine and perfect their product