Peak Sports, a Chinese sportswear company based in Quangzhou, has announced the production of a partially 3D printed volleyball shoe using SLS technology.
The application of 3D printing to sports shoes is no novelty in the world of elite athletics: in October 2015 adidas launched the Futurecraft range, featuring 3D printed mid-soles, while Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge aims to win the 2018 London Marathon on April 22nd, wearing Nike’s 3D printed “Flyprint” shoes, a process that more closely resembles knitting rather than 3D printing.
Chinese company Peak Sports themselves have previously launched 3D printed sneakers and partially 3D printed basketball boots. Peak Sports has now released the world’s first volleyball shoes made with the help of additive manufacturing technology. Introduced by China Peak Sport CEO Xu Zhihua with Olympic volleyball team member Ding Xia.
3D printing for comfort and performance
The shoes were conceived to cater for the range of intense movements required of top-tier athletes: volleyball relies heavily on upward motions with passing, serving, and spiking, but also on numerous jumps that can take a toll on a player’s knee, ankles, and spine. The use of 3D printing in the making of the shoes is said to provide a cushioning that standard shoes couldn’t, thus protecting athletes from some of the strain involved in the sport.
3D printed shoes exclusive .. for now
The shoes, however, are not entirely 3D printed: only the bottom of the shoe was created using SLS additive technology. A lightweight, flexible TPU powder was printed on the bottom of the shoe for enhanced cushioning and comfort.
Peak has not announced a product release date, and it is likely that the shoes will not be available beyond the world of elite sports. As technology advances, however, such innovation will potentially become more broadly available, and provide a broader audience with the fit and comfort that 3D printing offers.
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Featured image shows Peak 3D printed volleyball shoes. Photo via Peak Sport Products Co., Limited