3D printed shoes from HP and Brooks Running promise to enhance performance

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Multinational printing firm HP has announced a partnership with Brooks Running at the HP Imagine event, developing the Exhilarate-BL running shoes with 3D printing.

The Brooks Exhilarate-BL introduces 3DNA, a 3D printed midsole technology providing a propulsive, and springy feel. Tailored to different sizes based on runners’ data, it optimizes cushioning and bounce. HP confirmed that its Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology outperforms 90% of midsoles in today’s market. Brooks plans a limited release to select Wear Testers and Run Club members with synced wearables through Brooks’ platform in alliance with DashLX. Doing so will aid future 3DNA shoe designs using runner data like stride lengths and cadences.

Nikhil Jain, Director of Footwear Product Line Management and BlueLine at Brooks, said, “Using HP’s 3D printing technology has allowed our design team to fine-tune elements of the midsole right down to the millimeter in ways that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. As a brand rooted in the science that every individual has a unique motion path, we’re just scratching the surface in terms of how we can change the underfoot experience and use 3D printing to deliver a premium, performance run experience with the potential for greater optimization.”

Exhilarate-BL running shoes created in partnership by HP and Brooks Running. Photo via HP.
Exhilarate-BL running shoes created in partnership by HP and Brooks Running. Photo via HP.

HP’s walks with different industries

HP’s 3D printing technology is being used in various verticals. In the consumer goods industry alone, HP has collaborated with Decathlon, a major sports company, and Lonati Group, a textile firm, using Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology for sustainable shoe soles. Their aim is to provide customized, recyclable, and locally produced footwear. HP has also partnered with Smith Optics to create personalized snow ski goggles, recognized as a Time Magazine Invention of the Year. These goggles enhance sustainability and improve skiing safety and enjoyment by eliminating light leaks, air gaps, and hot spots.

HP’s 3D printing technology is significantly enhancing healthcare by improving patients’ lives, says the company. It covers a broad spectrum of applications, including personalized orthotics and prosthetics (O&P) and various health and wellness solutions tailored to individual needs. Additionally, it includes the development of surgical guides and treatments such as radiation therapy, leading to advanced patient care. In O&P, HP has partnered with clinics and manufacturers, challenging norms in applications like prosthetic sockets, ankle-foot orthoses, and pediatric cranial helmets, making significant improvements in patient well-being.

HP has been aiding heavy and packaging industries, says the company. For instance, John Deere tractors used HP’s Metal Jet S100 system to develop 3D printed engine parts, cutting costs by 50% and reducing materials. Schneider Electric is using HP’s Metal Jet for specialized filter production, enhancing design and environmental benefits. Additionally, HP’s Molded Fiber Tooling Solution aids in creating sustainable packaging, replacing plastics in items like food trays, and egg cartons.

Brooks Exhilarate-BL uses 3DNA technology. Photo via HP.
Brooks Exhilarate-BL uses 3DNA technology. Photo via HP.

How 3D printing is changing the footwear industry

Sports equipment manufacturer Adidas unveiled the MC87 4D, a limited-edition spikeless golf shoe. It stands out for its use of Carbon‘s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) 3D printing. This shoe features the pioneering 4D midsole, a debut in Adidas golf footwear. The 4D midsole is meticulously crafted using light and oxygen, forming a lattice structure. Beyond aesthetics, it’s engineered to deliver controlled energy return, as per the manufacturer.

Kiki Grammatopoulos, a graduate of London University Central Saint Martins, introduced “Rewild the Run,” a project highlighting sustainable fashion and ecological restoration. Her novel 3D printed running shoe outsole aims to promote urban plant and seed dispersion, fostering a deeper human-nature connection. The outsole’s demonstration prototype, created using nylon polymer via 3D printing, showcases exceptional precision and complex detailing achievable with this method.

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Featured image shows Exhilarate-BL running shoes created in partnership by HP and Brooks Running. Photo via HP.