During the Digital Factory manufacturing conference last June 5, New Balance proudly announced that they have struck a deal with Massachusetts-based 3D printing company, Formlabs, to bring their 3D printing services to a larger scale for the athletic brand.
Both of the Boston-based companies will partner together to develop materials for footwear and 3D printers for the creation of products focusing on the improvement of athlete performance. Production for these will be done with the use of Form 2, one of the best-selling stereolithography apparatus printing engine that is best known for having printed 10 million parts.
“New Balance is excited to work with fellow Boston-based Formlabs on our next evolution in 3D printing. We have been a leader with 3D printing technology for many years, when we were the first to bring customized spike plates to our professional runners and have expanded into other sports since then. Now we look forward to taking this technology to consumers to further improve athlete performance,” said Rob DeMartini, New Balance President and CEO, during the manufacturing conference.
“We’re proud to work with New Balance to provide cutting-edge 3D printing technologies for large-scale domestic manufacturing. 3D printing gives companies the ability to provide higher performance, better fitting, and more personalized products. With New Balance, we are demonstrating that it can be done at scale for consumer goods,” added Max Lobovsky, CEO of Formlabs.
The 3D printing startup always uses the Digital Factory conference as a platform to make their biggest announcement. Their first one was the launch of their Form 1 printer on Kickstarter five years ago, and in 2017, their partnership with athletic giant, New Balance. This move by Formlabs is a smart one, considering that this extension shall cement their place as one of the most innovative 3D printing companies out there.
Formlabs’ CEO Max Lobovsky has stated that 95% of their company’s existing clienteles are comprised of professionals and companies, with a small percentage of hobbyists partaking in the 3D printing fad. Their deal with New Balance will effectively push them towards direct manufacturing, proving that even startups can manage cater their 3D printing technologies for bigger industries.
Formlabs’ printers, Form 1 and Form 2, were both developed to 3D print prototypes, but lately, these machines have already been used for manufacturing legitimate products, mostly those that are used for biomedicine such as dental implants (that need precise customizations per piece) and Invisalign clear braces.
New Balance’s move also makes them one of the first companies that will take advantage of small scale manufacturing. By 2018, the athletic brand will be using Formlabs’ system to produce customized 3D printed footwear, akin to what Adidas has been doing with their Speedfactory.
While footwear production is different from the usual biomedical devices that 3D printers have been churning out, it’s still something that will provide faster and better customization choices for consumers. 2018 is an exciting year for athletic brands as they’re all beginning to look into partnering with technology firms in order to provide customization and faster production for their footwear.