new balance is launching a 3D printed sneaker
Obviously the best part of living in the future is the shoes.
Since it graduated from sci-fi trope to legitimate, real-world obsession, 3D printing and fashion have seemed like a match made in convenience heaven. But until now, most ventures with the process have been weighted in experimental design, accessorised with massive price tags, and let's be honest, wouldn't work with jeans. And beyond jewellery, 3D printed garments aren't a common sight in high street stores.
But next year New Balance, Sofia Coppola's sneaker of choice FYI, are going to deliver on some of these futuristic design promises. Early 2016 will see the launch of their first running shoe with a 3D printed midsole. Sure, it's not quite Leeloo's ultimate Fifth Element makeover, but in terms of production it's pretty revolutionary.
For anyone who isn't savvy with sneaker science, the midsole provides support and acts as a shock absorber. In a good sneaker, it's doing a lot of work to prevent injuries. Through 3D printing, New Balance will be able to design the sole for specific needs, making the final shoe comfortable, but also massively reducing prolonged physical strain.
Even if you're not planning a marathon, 3D printing is good news. Custom printing any part of a shoe reduces production time which in turn makes the product cheaper to make, and cheaper to buy. It also allows designers to print up to 16 different sole designs in one day; encouraging experimentation, innovation, and quicker turnaround times from being on-trend to on your foot.
The possibilities of 3D printing have been obvious to athletic brands for a while now, and other companies have also taken steps to incorporate it into their process. Adidas have partnered with 3D printing company Materialise to create personalised shoes, and Nike's Eric Sprunk detailed his plans to incorporate 3D printing into manufacturing at this year's GeekWire Summit.
Now just design a sole that will allow us to run for five minutes without breaking a sweat, and put us down for one of every colour.
Text Wendy Syfret
Photo via New Balance