Beaverton, Oregon – Eluid Kipchoge ran to victory in the 2018 Virgin London Marathon in a pair of 3D printed TPU shoes by Nike.
The company claims that this is the first application of 3D printing to the uppers of performance footwear.
The uppers are made using solid deposit modelling. In this method, filament is unwound from a coil, melted, and then laid down in layers. The company claims printing allows prototypes to be created 16 times faster than other production processes.
Nike is also using the technique to incorporate athlete-specific data into the textile geometry. Nike uses data captured from the athlete and this is analysed to confirm the material’s ideal composition. That analysis is used to design the textile.
Nike claims that 3D printed fabrics are more dynamic than traditionally woven fabrics. This is because the warp and weft fibres are connected.
‘An advantage of Flyprint textiles comes in the fused nature of the material,’ the company said. ‘In a knit or woven textile there is frictional resistance between the interlaced warp and weft yarns. In a printed textile there is greater potential for precision-tuned containment.’
The firm added that the 3D printed textile is ‘lighter and more breathable’ than earlier fabrics.
Kenyan Eluid Kipchoge is the first runner to use the shoes.
Nike said its Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint shoes Kipchoge wore were based on his feedback on the shoes he wore in the 2017 Berlin marathon. His 2018 London marathon shoes were 11g lighter than the first iteration.