While shoe manufacturers have been using 3D printing to prototype shoes for years, this is the first shoe by a major manufacturer that plans to use 3D printing for the final product. The Nike Vapor Laser Talon is 3D printed using selective laser sintering to produce an ultra lightweight football shoe weighing only 159 grams (5.6oz) including cleats.  Nike designed the cleats specifically to help athletes quickly accelerate from standstill.

Nike 3D Print Shoe

As mentioned in the previous post where we looked at the cost of injection molding vs 3D printing, the value of the 3D printed part is in the complexity, not just the material cost.  Nike are using this ‘free’ complexity to design the football cleats for maximum performance without being constrained by issues of manufacturability.  

“Nike’s new 3D printed plate is contoured to allow football athletes to maintain their drive position longer and more efficiently, helping them accelerate faster through the critical first 10 yards of the 40… Translated to the game of football, mastering the Zero Step can mean the difference between a defensive lineman sacking the quarterback or getting blocked… SLS technology has revolutionized the way we design cleat plates – even beyond football – and gives Nike the ability to create solutions that were not possible within the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes” 

Shane Kohatsu, Director of Nike Footwear Innovation. 

Nike 3D printed shoe

There are so many sporting applications where a complex, customized product can be 3D printed in Nylon which is incredibly lightweight yet strong enough to withstand great stress if designed properly. What other sports do you know of that are ready for 3D printed components?