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Nike 3D Printed Shoes – Is This The Future of Sneakers?

Nike 3D Printed Shoes - Is This The Future of Sneakers? - a 3d printed machine is creating nike sneakers using flyprint with a black background

Nike 3D Printed Shoes – Highlighting the latest developments and innovation in fashion manufacturing, these trainers are the next generation of shoes.

Nike 3D Printed Shoes – The Revolution Of 3D Printing

3D printing has incredible potential in the production of sneakers. It allows brands to create prototypes faster than ever and be able to devise new styles and get them to market. Adidas’s Futurecraft 4D sneakers are one of the first examples of such products. However, as a prototype, these sneakers have released to the public in limited numbers.

To date, sneaker companies have focused their 3D-printing efforts on sneaker midsoles. But, on the 17th of April, Nike announced a novel way of using the technique. It says it has made the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear, called Flyprint.

Nike 3D Printed Shoes - Is This The Future of Sneakers? - a 3d printed fabric which has been created by flyprint technique with a black background

Nike 3D Printed Shoes – Flyprint As A New Technique

Flyprint can be achieved through a process called solid deposit modeling. As the company explains, the thermoplastic filament (TPU) “is unwound from a coil, melted and laid down in layers”. Nike developed the specific printing process by modifying existing machines and claims the method allows it to precisely engineer the textile as it wants.




Traditional fabrics are woven or knit out of interlocking yarns. However, Flyprint is a lattice of fused material, each line of which can be moved independently as Nike wants. Using computational design based on running data it collected from athletes, Nike determined how Flyprint should be structured to best support a runner’s foot. Despite being plastic, the material is stretchy and flexible, not stiff, and can adapt to your foot, like Nike Flyknit—only Nike says it’s lighter and more breathable than any of its previous textiles.

Not least of all, Nike says its 3D-printed upper makes for prototyping that’s “16 times quicker than in any previous manufacturing method.” That allows it to create and test new products rapidly, and as the company told Popular Science, it views Flyprint as a step toward being able to make fast, fully customized sneakers.

Nike 3D Printed Shoes – The Future of Sneakers

Nike is using it first in a shoe for the world’s most elite marathoners, the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint. It’s an upgrade on the performance-enhancing Zoom Vaporfly Elite 4% that runner Eliud Kipchoge wore in his failed 2017 attempt to finish a marathon in less than two hours. When Kipchoge came in just over the mark, Nike looked into any problems with his shoes. It had been a rainy, humid day, and his shoes had absorbed water during his run.




Flyprint is supposed to be the solution. The plastic material doesn’t absorb water, and the abundant holes in the cage-like material mean that any water that collects in a runner’s shoes or socks will easily evaporate. It’s not clear at this stage whether Nike plans to make it more available to casual runners in the near future.

For now, Flyprint won’t come easy – or cheap. The weekend of April 22, when Kipchoge wears the shoes for the London marathon and his next attempt at a sub-two-hour marathon, Nike will release 100 pairs in the city through its app, each costing $600, according to Popular Science.

This article has minor changes for readability and to match WTVOX format.

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