The latest innovation from the Portland, Oregon company is the first 3D printed textile used in performance footwear.
At its most basic level, Nike FlyPrint uppers are produced through solid deposit modelling (SDM), a process where a TPU filament is unwound from a coil, melted and laid down in layers.
Have a look at the video below, because it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.
The process to develop the Flyprint uppers begins by capturing athlete data. That data was then computed (through computational design tools) to affirm the ideal composition of the material. Finally, that information was employed to produce the final textile.
This operation speaks to the versatility (outputs can be wholly unique to athlete or function) of Flyprint textile, as well as the increased pace of overall design time.
Through performance printing, Nike is capable of moving faster with unprecedented precision — prototyping is 16-times quicker than in any previous manufacturing method.
One interesting benefit of 3D textiles over traditional 2D fabrics is the increased dynamism made possible by adding an interconnection beyond a warp and weft; an advantage of Flyprint textiles comes in the fused nature of the material.
For example, whereas in a knit or woven textile there is frictional resistance between the interlaced (warp and weft) yarns, in a printed textile, due to its fused intersections, there is greater potential for precision-tuned containment. It is also lighter and more breathable than Nike’s previously employed textiles.
Again, for the elite of the elite first
Nike will debut the Flyprint technology this coming weekend at the London Marathon, at the feet of Eliud Kipchoge – who helped Nike design the upper.
This shoe, named “Nike Zook Vaporfly Elite Flyprint”, was developed following Eliod’s feedback after last year’s Berlin Marathon. This shoe apparently improves on the Vaporfly Elite (the shoe of Breaking2), making it 11g lighter.