Nike as a brand needs no introduction in the footwear industry. Since time immemorial, the brand has been known to make sneakers look cool and thereby, actually accelerate the progression of the footwear industry. The innovations of Nike can be dated way back to the 1980s when the brand released the Nike Air shoes and set the bar high for performance and comfort. Then onwards in the year 2012, Nike Flyknit brought an entirely new look to the Sneakers, and it is still going strong today. The list of the contributions of Nike to the footwear industry goes on and on, and presently the world is abuzz with the new Flyprint shoes. Flyprint is the first shoe in the world to use the 3D printing technology, and it is as smart to look at as it is functional.
The introduction of 3D Technology in footwear
The United States of America Patent and Trademark Office have granted Nike a patent for the technology that is associated with the 3D printed shoes. The popular Flyknit shoes of the brand will be upgraded with the 3D technology called Flyprint. Flyknit has Strobel type of affixation of the upper to the midsole. The patent is for the machine that has been designed to scan the design into the computer based on the data in hand and then to print the sewing guidelines on that strobe. The 3D machine prints or lays the fabric into the outline of the body of the shoe. The best example of this would be how a baker puts frosting on to a cake.
According to a recent Press Release by the brand, the Flyprint 3D technology makes the shoes better than the woven or knit textile ones which have high friction between the yarns. The key to the Flyprint technology lies in using printed textile which prevents the fabrics from rubbing against itself when you are wearing the shoes.
The patented technology is not going to fundamentally change the way the brand makes shoes, but it is definitely all set to modernize and update the process of making the shoes. 3D printing will reduce the use of human labor for the brand but not completely eliminate it.
The one of a kind features of Nike Flyprint
The main feature of Flyprint that has grabbed the attention of the world is that you can customize the shoes using your specific personal data. Since no two people have exactly similar feet, the customization is a huge plus for the athletes. Also, personalizing the sneaker using Flyprint technology makes it sixteen times faster than the other alternatives which certainly give an athlete the much-needed edge over the competitors.
The Flyprint shoes are lighter than the regular Flyknit ones which mean that you can wear them for a longer time without any discomfort. The brand makes sure that the products are all customized and delivered in the shortest period of time as the latest 3D technology ensures the manufacturing time is significantly reduced despite the specifications. For instance, Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge got his new pair of tweaked Vaporfly sneakers delivered to him within nine days, and the brand claimed that this time was mostly taken up in shipping the sneakers to Kenya.
Though moisture-wicking qualities are nothing new in athletic shoes, these shoes take it to several notches higher. The shoes are also highly water-absorbent from the inside which makes sure that nothing bogs you down while you are on the field. Eliud Kipchoge is the one you have to give credit for this as the athlete provided feedback after sporting the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes during the Berlin Marathon 2017 and Nike improved their 3D technology based on his feedback.
Influencing the footwear world with the 3D tech
The announcements on Flyprint shoes came a week after the chief operating officer of the brand, Erick Sprunk stated to the attendants of the GeekWire Summit of 2015 that the day is not far off when consumers start printing their own 3D shoes. His idea was that the consumers would buy the shoe design file from Nike and make the shoe according to their specifications. The patent is expected to help Nike rank way above its competitors in the Footwear market.
Adidas announced a concept model along the similar lines as Nike and named it the Futurecraft 3D. This is supposed to be the first foray of the company into the arena of 3D printed shoes. The Futurecraft 3D will be printed on the midsole of the shoes, and the credit is due with Nike to come up with the best way to attach the midsole to the upper of the shoes.
The world got the first glimpse of Nike’s Flyprint shoes when Eliud Kipchoge sported it at the London Marathon on 22nd April. The ones trying to get hold of 3D printed shoes were given a rare opportunity during the marathon week. Nike ran a limited sale on the 3D printed shoes through the Nike app during that week. If you are not among the ones who could get hold of the Flyprint shoes during the marathon week, there is not much news available on that front for you now. Nike will certainly introduce Flyprint to the masses, but that is still work in progress as reported by the brand.