When a new trend in footwear appears, it often shows up first in the world of sports, and 3D printed shoes are no exception. Professional athletes can benefit greatly from the customization that 3D printing offers, and they can also bring widespread attention to the technology. Several professional athletes have sported footwear made with 3D printing, like Olympic runner Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price and Cleveland Indians pitcher Corey Kluber, just to name a couple. Now NBA star Dwight Howard has thrown his support behind 3D printing, in the form of a pair of specially designed basketball boots.
The boots were designed and produced by PEAK Sport Products, the Chinese company responsible for the 3D printed “Future” sneakers released earlier this year. Describing the basketball shoes as the first-ever wearable 3D printed basketball boots, PEAK introduced them last week at the 2017 PEAK China Tour and Dwight Howard III Press Conference. Howard, for whom the Dwight Howard III 3D Basketball Boots have been named, is impressed.
“This pair of boots has obviously higher performance than traditional ones,” he said. “I felt that the 3D printed soles and vamp side walls enable a more comfortable wearing experience. Maybe, one day in the future, you’ll see me wearing the 3D printed basketball boots, footwear designed based on R&D carried out by PEAK, during an NBA competition.”
PEAK 3D printed the boots using SLS technology. Each shoe has a 3D printed lattice structure in the middle of the sole, and the vamp side walls are also 3D printed using TPU material. This results in a flexible, lightweight shoe with a lot of room for design freedom and customization. There’s no word on if and when Howard or any other NBA players will be wearing the shoes in an actual game, but it would seem likely, and if these shoes are anything like the other 3D printed athletic shoes that have been released, they could potentially be tailored to each individual wearer in ways that improve not only comfort but performance.
There’s also no word on whether the 3D printed basketball boots will be available on the market, or how much they might cost, but new types of athletic shoes such as these often tend to be rolled out to professional athletes first before becoming available on the wider market at a later time. It could be a while before we see these particular shoes in stores, but the frequency at which 3D printed athletic shoes are being introduced these days bodes well for them soon becoming more accessible to the average person. Adidas recently announced the production of partially 3D printed running shoes at scale, a first for an industry that has thus far only produced 3D printed shoes in very limited release.
PEAK is just getting started, too. The company plans to use 3D printing for many more athletic products in the future.
“As a new prototyping and processing technology, 3D printing is of great significance to Chinese sports brands and the country’s Made in China 2025 strategy,” said Xu Zhihua, General Manager of PEAK Sport. “Our goal is to transform PEAK into the world’s leading professional sports brand through continuous innovation and ongoing expansion into international markets.”
So keep an eye out for 3D printed PEAK products in the future – if not on your local store shelves just yet, at least on NBA basketball courts and in other professional sports settings. Discuss in the PEAK forum at 3DPB.com.