LONDON – The world’s fastest marathon runner, Eliud Kipchoge, won the recent London Marathon wearing a revolutionary new running shoe designed and developed by Nike in just four months. The shoe boasts an upper design that has been 3D printed rather than weaved using Nike’s game-changing Flyknit technology.
Nike used 3D printing to create the new Nike Flyprint which, it claims, is the first 3D-printed textile upper in performance footwear.
Flyprint uppers are produced using an additive manufacturing process which draws on the same principles of 3D printers, building up layers to create a three-dimensional shape. The seamless upper is then thermally bonded to Flyknit elements before being connected to the sole to create the shoe.
Notably, the Flyprint method allows designers to translate athlete data into new textile geometries. In this, it advances Nike’s efforts in digitally enabled textile development and adds to a legacy of proprietary modification of machines — a heritage that includes Nike Hyperfuse, Flywire and Flyknit — to achieve extreme performance solutions.
The process to develop the Flyprint uppers begins by capturing athlete data. That data was then computed (through computational design tools) to affirm the ideal composition of the material. Finally, that information was employed to produce the final textile. This operation speaks to the versatility (outputs can be wholly unique to athlete or function) of Flyprint textile, as well as the increased pace of overall design time. Through performance printing, Nike is capable of moving faster with unprecedented precision — prototyping is 16-times quicker than in any previous manufacturing method.
In this case, the final result is the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite Flyprint, which weighs 169g and is 11g lighter than its Flyknit Breaking2 predecessor.
A consumer training version of the shoe will be available later this year.