3D Printed Wearables Are Out of the Lab and Taking Over the Streets

When Nike started custom designing sprinting shoes for top athletes, Innovation Director Shane Kohatsu used 3D printing to go through 12 iterations of prototypes in only 6 months. Compressing the product development cycle allowed Nike to be first off the line when it came to the lightest, fastest, and most technically advanced sprinting shoes for top pro athletes. At the time Kohatsu was developing the ultra-light shoes, 3D printing was not sufficiently advanced for production runs of each shoe. Times have changed. Companies like People Footwear are selling footwear with 3D printed portions to a mass audience.

A common refrain from detractors about 3D printed wearables is that the finished products are often compromised because of inconsistent quality, and cannot be produced with the same variety of textures as traditional fabrics. The trend, however, is towards 3D printing becoming more of an option for creating never before imagined fabrics, even if they are custom created rather than mass produced.

>Read more by Advanced Manufacturing Insight, August 7, 2015