3D printing and Shoe Industry; Nike and Adidas Speeding Up Prototyping

Science and technology are progressing very rapidly and at a very fast pace indeed. What was considered impossible previously is very well within our grasp today. That being said, let’s move on to the topic; so how many of you have heard about 3D printers and the wonders that they are doing today? Some may argue that the 3D printing is perhaps only meant for research purposes and all that technical stuff but Adidas and Nike think differently! A recent article published by Financial Times in context of Adidas and Nike says; ‘using [3D Printing] to make multiple prototype versions [of their shoes] at a previously impossible speed.’ Whoa! What just happened here; Science, my friend. The Innovation Director at Nike, Shane Kohatsu, while complimenting 3D printing said; ‘Within six months we were able to go through 12 rounds of prototype iterations that we fully tested, and ultimately we were able to make super dramatic improvements to our products. With traditional injection molding techniques, Nike would typically update complex product parts such as studs “every couple of years.’ There you have it folks, right from the man. 3D printing is definitely stepping it up.

Adidas has made use of 3D printing and it has resulted in reduction of man hours it took them to prepare a prototype. Previously it required around 12 technicians and they had some intensive labor to do. Not only that, but the prototypes are becoming cheaper to produce thanks to the 3D printing. However, perhaps the most significant benefit of using 3D printing is the reduction in time required to evaluate the prototype. What took them four to six weeks previously is being completed within just one or two days! Some are even foreseeing a future where the 3D printing will be used to produce finished products at a relatively cheaper price. Well, we’d for one definitely want that; less expensive Nike and Adidas shoes!

As of now, Nike and Adidas sure are more than happy with what the 3D printing has got to offer to their industry and Shane Kohatsu was quoted saying; ‘What’s really intriguing for us is not the volumes that you can make. It’s really more how rapidly you can make changes’.

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