One of the marvels of 3D printing is that it allows designers to make small modifications during the prototype stage. Even not so small changes can be accomplished as another model can be printed off.
Luc Fusaro used this technology to develop lightweight sprint shoes that are customizable for individual runners. Fusaro developed the shoes as his final master degree solo project at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London, and it began with him scanning the feet of an athlete to create a digital 3D model.
On his website Fusaro noted:
Scientific investigations have highlighted that tuning the mechanical properties of a sprint shoe to the physical abilities of an athlete can improve performance by up to 3.5%, when an improvement of 0.7% can already make a significant difference in a sprinter’s chance of winning a particular race. Wearing custom-made shoes has thus a significant impact on performance, but it is still a privilege exclusively reserved to world class elite athletes. The current mass-manufacturing process only allows to produce shoes with standard mechanical properties and geometries.
Using the opportunities offered by additive manufacturing and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) in particular, the project consists in the design of a new generation of athlete-specific shoes, but also considers propositions for new models of production and consumption of sport equipment. Dr Daniel Toon from the Loughborough University Sports Technology and Additive Manufacturing Research Groups developed methodologies for the design, production, testing, analysis and customisation of Additive Manufactured sprint footwear. Dr Toon determined that an athlete’s performance could be optimised by tuning the mechanical properties of sprint footwear using the selective laser sintering process.
Obviously Fusaro’s project hasn’t arrived in time for the London Olympic Games this summer, but it is possible that 3D printed shoes could be ready for the Rio Games in 2016. Imagine printing out a new pair of shoes just before an event1