Porsche and Puma Release 3D Printed Sneaker

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Puma has worked with Porsche Design on the 3D MTRX TRAINERS, $430 sneakers featuring a lightweight, stable, cushioning 3D printed sole and an upper made of leather with carbon fiber details. The upper is white with soles or black with black soles and includes an evoKNIT textile lining and the shoes weigh 405g.

We can once again see that 3D printing is leading to collaborations that result in new shoe releases. We’re slowly but surely getting to a critical mass where so many shoe partnerships are taking place related to 3D printing that it is destined to grow at this point: a bandwagon that more parties will want to jump on.

The 3D printed midsole is inspired by the Porsche Design logo, with each and every cube structure in the sole inspired by that shape, in addition to a lattice structure in the sole that we’ve seen before in Adidas’s 3D printed shoes. The sole promises to convert and transfer 83% of vertical energy into movement forward with what it calls its Superior Energy Return system, reminiscent of Adidas, as well. For anyone interested Puma and Adidas have their own interesting familial history, referred to as the Dassler brothers feud.

The shoe has withstood over one million compression cycles in laboratory tests, which is good news. The companies say that “the 3D MTRX sneakers also achieve top results in terms of durability, mechanical resilience, tear resistance, and flexibility.” They state that the shoe is ideal for cities and surfaces such as tarmac.

The 3D printed material is made of polyurethane. We’re not sure at this point if this product was also made by Oechsler and Carbon, like those made by Adidas, or if, in this case, the team turned to Henkel and others for materials and the printing. We’re also not 100%-sure that the process is vat polymerization, although it does look like it. The midsole material could be Carbon’s EPU40 or something similar, possibly something from BASF, the German chemical giant has not publicly released very flexible black urethane resins, but it has similar materials in its Ultracur3D portfolio.

We also do not learn where these shoes are made. Most shoes are assembled in China and Vietnam, but will this change with 3D printing? Will Oechsler’s success bring shoe production for sneakers back to Europe? Or will we 3D print the shoe soles in Europe and then mate it with a more labor-intensive upper made in Asia? Or will the entire production be performed very close to the consumer? This has a lot of implications for how the shoe business will work in the future.

If the companies wish to fully use 3D printing to its most useful extent, then they will release many different designs. These will be timely, much faster than fast fashion. They will also not require advanced knowledge of how high demand will be in Italy for a certain shoe 12 months from now. Companies could have less capital tied up in supply chains. They also have less fashion risk, both in having too much of something which they then have to discount or by not having enough of a popular item. Instead, they can release lots of shoe models and make what is needed once they get the cash from consumers.
I think this is a powerful model but it will need shoe companies to break from the way they do business now. This is difficult. It will be easier for them to for certain collections offer up high priced shoes in short production runs. This does not fully utilize the benefit of 3D printing and does not lead to completely new production paradigms. But, it will be what we will be seeing in the coming months. 3D printing shoes so far is far short of its potential. But, it is becoming something that is moving from a side show to a main attraction.

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