It was only a few days ago that global printing giant Hewlett-Placard created waves in the world of 3D printing by revealing their first ever system of 3D printing- the Jet Fusion 3D printer. The device is said to be up to 10 times speedier than its competitors and is capable of lowering the cost of production by up to 50%. This new 3D printing wonder itself could potentially change the world of rapid prototyping and 3D printing as we know it. However, just after this astonishing announcement, sports goods giant Nike has announced that they are going to use the Jet Fusion 3D printer to create their custom printed footwear prototypes, that too at faster speeds than ever seen.
Nike as a company though is no stranger to the world of rapid prototyping and 3D printing of high precision footwear for athletes. Early last year the company patented their own 3D printing technology for shoes, having used it for a variety of interesting applications. Olympic athlete Allyson Felix is all set to go to Rio Olympics wearing Nike’s custom prototype footwear that was made through 3D printing. The Jet Fusion 3D printer is going to give the footwear development of Nike a huge boost. The two available models of the printer are the HP Jet Fusion 3200 and the 4200 printers. Both boast really amazing resolution and very large build platforms.
Unlike other rapid prototyping systems or 3D printing devices, HP’s new device has been designed specifically to produce parts for end users, which happen to be of the highest quality. To ensure the precision of quality, the 3D printer is going to print the parts in individual voxel levels. Each voxel is as small as fifty microns, which is similar to how 2D printers print pixel by pixel on paper. The amazing capabilities of the Jet Fusion 3D printer can be narrowed down to each voxel where the transforming characteristics will allow users to experience countless color combinations, applications, materials and a high level of design control. Stephen Nigro, the 3D printing president of Nike stated that their 3D printing platform is one of a kind in its capabilities and can print 340 million voxels each second as opposed to dealing with one point at a time. Due to this, their rapid prototyping and manufacturing partners have been given the chance to build at radically faster speeds, breakthrough in economics and fully functional parts.
In short, the Jet Fusion 3D printer is an amazing option for users of any level, however, Nike was one of the first exclusive group of early adopters of the technology who are also going to provide exclusive user feedback to HP. Nike, as revealed in their press release, say that they are to use the revolutionary hardware by HP for a wide range of footwear applications. Nike has in fact, kept it a secret as to what the exact products are going to be like or what will be the benefits from this 3D printing technology. It has been widely circulated by other sources that the company would use it for customized items on demand and rapid prototyping.
Nike already has a lot of rapid prototyping and 3D printing achievements up its sleeve in its footwear department. Previously, they have made extensive use of selective laser sintering technology to print and optimize rapid prototyping for different types of football cleats and track spikes. They have also employed the technology to prototype a cooling hood, especially for decathlete Ashton Eaton and a great duffle bag unlike any other.
Tom Clarke, president, Nike Innovation hinted at the fact that some more of those new prototypes and experimental projects can be expected out of the technical advancement of the company. Nike has the reputation for innovating for the world’s best athletic talents. The company has been using rapid prototyping and 3D printing technologies in order to create new innovators of performance for footwear for the several years in the past. The company expressed excitement in the partnership with celebrated HP to scale and accelerate their existing abilities as they continue to find new ways to better manufacture performance enhancing products to help athletes go up to their full potential. 3D printing, even though not a replacement for factory manufactured footwear just yet, it will definitely take up strong space in custom creations.
One the amazing projects undertaken by Nike would have to be the running shoes created especially for Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce, a Jamaican athlete all set for the summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro. The Nike Zoom Superfly Elite was developed for Fraser Pryce with tightly woven upper and base plates, which were inspired by the geometric structures of organisms under the sea. The shoes were both lightweight, stiff and the perfect fit for the athlete.
With HP’s new printers all set to help Nike up their rapid prototyping game, it is to be expected that all celebrated athletes, as well as normal customers of the future will have 3D printed pair of shoes that fit like second skin and cost lower than what is produced from traditional assembly lines.
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