Nike Set to Debut the First Ever 3D Printed Sneaker Upper

The first 3D printed textile sneaker upper will be seen on the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, worn by Eliud Kipchoge.

On April 22nd, Nike will debut its first 3D printed textile upper in sneaker history, on the Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint.

The textile is created using a process known as solid deposit modeling, where TPU (Thermal Polyurethane) filament is unwound from a coil, melted by a 3D printer and laid down in strict and precise layers to create a mesh.

The Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint was made in collaboration with marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge. The Kenyan will wear them while competing in the London marathon this weekend (April, 2018).

Because the fabric is 3D printed, there is no frictional resistance between the woven yarns when they’re worn and the shoes can be constructed faster than traditionally manufactured shoes. Nike released a statement claiming that their prototyping is 16 times quicker than any previous manufacturing method.

Nike championed space-age material design back in 2012 with their Flyknit technology, a woven and synthetic yarn that closely follows the movement of your foot. But it hasn’t all been smooth striding with the technology. Kipchoge wore the Flyknits during a marathon where they became saturated, adding considerable weight and robbing him of a world-record.

Nike, as expected, immediately sunk cash into the problem and quickly found a solution. Flyprint sneakers are 11g lighter than the Zoom Vaporfly Elite, and they won’t retain water.

There will be a limited number of shoes available through the Nike App on the weekend of the London Marathon. There is no news of a wider release date.

You can watch the 3D textile printing process here:

 

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