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It was just a couple days ago that we reported on Nike’s 3D printed American Football cleat that’s specifically engineered to help professional athletes boost their 40-yard dash times. The significance of the cleat rests in the designers’ decision to use 3D printing as a final form of manufacturing (SLS). However, 3D printing is nothing new in the shoe development world, and has been used for prototyping concepts for cheap before they head off to be molded and patterned at a significantly higher cost. Today, sneaker magazine Sole Collector released some excellent photos that show off this 3D print component of the shoe prototyping process.

The Lebron X

Finished Product

“We gave [LeBron] some Swoosh pieces and let him tape it where he wanted it to be.”
-Leo Chang, Nike Basketball Design Director.








Regardless if you’re a fan or not of Lebron James, Nike, or basketball shoes, it’s hard to deny that these are some pretty impressive examples of the capabilities and application of a 3D printer in the design process.

Filed under: DESIGN FAB

  • The scotch tape is classy. Is that a normal part of the prototyping process? 🙂

  • Simon Martin

    Hi Jack–yes it is! As a matter of fact, tape in general (esp masking tape) is used quite frequently throughout the process. Example: Covering a foot last with masking tape and translating a 2D sketch onto the masking tape to create a quick and simple ‘3D Sketch’

  • Oh, I know tape is the savior of modern civilization – be it duct, masking, scotch, or fine-line vinyl. I’ve just never seen it show up in product photography so prominently, that’s all.