Nike is always looking for new ways to make shoes and materials. The company’s latest innovation, called Flyprint, is hailed as the first 3D printed upper for high-performance footwear. The Flyprint upper is manufactured using Solid Deposition Modeling (SDM). The process uses TPU filaments that are unrolled from the web and melted and layered.
This process “allows designers to convert athlete data into new textile geometries.” Presumably, this means custom measurements, by calculating the data collected by the design tools to achieve the desired composition of the material, making custom shoes ideal for personal wear. . All of this data is used to produce the final textile.
Nike said the printing process can be 16 times faster than previous manufacturing methods. One of the benefits of 3D textiles over traditional fabrics is to increase vitality by adding interconnects that go beyond Nike’s warp and weft yarns. The warp and weft yarns are the resistance between the interwoven yarns in the printed fabric.
3D printed fabrics are lighter and more breathable than other textiles. Another advantage of the 3D orientation process is the faster testing and correction cycles and the ability to locally adjust materials. Nike said the new Flyprint material can be used with other materials used, including Flyknit yarns. These yarns can be thermally bonded to Flyprint textiles, eliminating any glue or stitching.