The advent of 3D printing has created a huge opportunity of further customisation for consumers. Following in the footsteps of Adidas, New Balance have become the next sports footwear company to infuse innovation and technology into their products. Teaming up with the design firm Nervous Systems, the data of several runners was captured using a grid of underfoot sensors that record the force that the foot strikes the ground as it pushes off. This data lead them to be able to personalise the soles, and in turn enhance performability.
Nervous Systems looked to nature for inspiration and observed naturally occurring foams such as wood and bone, applying a similarly porous design to the 3D-printed soles. "Foam structures are three-dimensional arrays of cells," said Nervous System. "They have a low relative density and are highly porous, giving them the unique property of being both lightweight and strong." Using laser sintering the soles were created featuring areas of smaller, more densely packed holes where support is required most.
This is such an exciting time for the sports industry, with various technologies being used to enhance the performance of pro athletes to the experience of participating in and watching the sports themselves. I’m fascinated by the varied developments and can’t wait to see what the next big idea will be.