We’ve seen 3D printed shoes as far back as 2012. Adidas has innovated with ocean waste, and some even adapt to your foot. Now, Under Armour has created the world’s first commercially available 3D printed training shoes.
Under Armour teamed up with Autodesk to create these innovative shoes in an effort to make training shoes both lightweight and supportive. The result is the UA Architech, training shoes that promise to be comfortable, durable, and supportive.
To make sure the new shoes hit all the right marks, Under Armour had to use a new structure for the midsole. The final design uses a lattice structure – an idea they got from a computer program rather than an athletic expert. During the design stages, the company consulted an algorithmic systems to create structures based on the desired criteria, a process known as generative design. When it was time to actually build the shoes, the task proved to be too difficult for existing manufacturing methods. In comes Autodesk with their software Autodesk Within used to create the new stable heel.
“Traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding typically don’t work well for the complex structures that come out of a generative design,” said Senior Director of Design, Mark Davis. “3D printing does give more flexibility to produce shoes that benefit from the lattice—in this case it provides greater stability and cushioning than conventional designs.”
But the 3D printing technology doesn’t just stop at the midsole. These elements are also found in the heel and the upper area of the shoe where the “Clutchfit Auxetic” design is meant to adapt to the shape and movement of the wearer for a more precise fit. These new features are an addition to Under Armour’s trademark “Charged Foam” cushioning for comfort and responsiveness and a thin rubber outsole for traction. All of these elements combined, result in Under Armour’s ultimate performance trainer.
Under Armour is not the only company to implement 3D printing technology in their shoes. Last year, New Balance created the first 3D printed running shoe. Before that Adidas revealed its own 3D printed midsole molded for an athlete’s foot. But the thing that makes the UA Architech different is it’ll be available commercially as a limited edition starting March 18 via Under Armour’s website. The shoes costs $299.99 and 96 pairs – a reference to the company being founded in 1996 – will be available for the masses.
“One of the real benefits of 3D printing is that it will allow for an era of mass customization,” Davis said. “Meaning that every individual consumer could have a custom designed shoe just for them, based on their height, weight, athletic needs.”
Combining 3D printing with wearables has been successful in the past, so hopefully these new shoes will prove to be a hit. (They’re already “sold out” on the website. A good sign?) With the promise of being lightweight, supportive, and comfortable the UA Architech promises to be the ultimate trainers for all athletes.