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Nike patents 3D technology

posted 16 October 2015 at 11:31:03

Way back in Issue 1, we showcased sports giant Nike's innovative Vapor Laser Talon football boot, which featured a revolutionary 3D printed cleat that increased the wearer's speed. The company has now been granted a patent, the first of several it has applied for, by the US States Patent and Trademark Office for its 'automated strobel printing'.  
For the uninitiated, the strobel is the fabric or non-woven material that affixes the shoe's upper to its midsole. Nike's patent is for a machine that scans the design into a computer and, based on the data, prints sewing guides onto the strobel.  
For Nike, it could mean a massive shift in the way it manufactures sports shoes going forward, meaning more will be done by computer and less by hand. Customers, meantime, may have taken a step closer to the day when they choose a shoe online, customise it to their exact specification and take a digital file into a Nike sports store to have a custom fit shoe manufactured on the spot.  

The company's Chief Operating Officer, Eric Sprunk, says: "We have a huge initiative in our company called manufacturing revolution. If you look at 3D printing, knitting, automation, robotics, motion sensing and cameras... now you can automate all of that. "Do I envision a future where we might still own the file, from an IP perspective – because it's a Nike product; you can't have just anybody make a Nike product – and you can manufacture that either in your home, or we will do it for you at our store? Oh yeah, that's not far away."  

Image: © Nike