The Future of Footwear: Nike, HP, and 3-D
From food to footwear, 3-D printing is continuing to let the world know that it’s no longer a novelty. Last month HP unveiled their first-ever 3-D printing system: the HP Jet Fusion 3D Printer. The company claims this new printer will reinvent how companies prototype and produce functional parts, delivering quality output, up to 10 times faster at half the cost. So it makes sense that Nike (always a trailblazer) is seizing this opportunity to use the Jet Fusion 3D printer to create 3-D printed footwear prototypes. In fact, recently Nike used 3-D printing to create a custom footwear prototype for three-time Olympian, Allyson Felix who hopes to qualify for Rio and race in multiple events.
By partnering with HP, Nike is able to be part of an exclusive group of early adopters who will also provide extensive user feedback. And while Nike is being tightlipped about what products will benefit from the new 3-D printing technology, there’s a good chance it will be used for custom, on-demand items and prototypes. The president of Nike Innovation, Tom Clarke summed it up best in a 3ders.org article, “At Nike we innovate for the world’s best athletes. We’ve been using 3D printing to create new performance innovations for footwear for the past several years. Now we are excited to partner with HP to accelerate and scale our existing capabilities as we continue to explore new ways to manufacture performance products to help athletes reach their full potential,” he said. So it appears even though factory footwear manufacturers won't be going out of business anytime soon, that 3-D printing is definitely ready to make it products viable in the market.
Tell us in the comments what you think the potential impact 3-D technology will have on the racing community.