3D Printing Makes Track Spikes Custom Designed For Performance Possible
Athletes are always looking for an advantage--something that will make them better than their opponent or allow them to perform with greater ease.
3.5%. That's how much the Designed To Win track shoe could improve a runner's performance. One tenth of a second. That was the difference in 1st and 5th place in the 1992 women's 100-meter finals in Barcelona. Five sprinters were within a tenth of a second of winning Olympic gold, but only one took that honor. The four runners finishing behind the lead, in that race, would have taken that 3.5% improvement, as would any sprinter.
The Designed To Win track shoe was designed by Luc Fusaro with the purpose of tuning the track footwear to meet the biomechanical needs of individual athletes. Mass manufactured shoes can't offer that, and a lot of custom track footwear isn't designed around the athlete's foot; the custom changes are just aesthetic.
What Fusaro does to create these unique shoes is to first scan the athlete's foot in a relaxed position and while they are performing various athletic movements, like jumping and running. Then an image, based on those scans, is loaded into a computer. Using the Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) process, the shoe is created.
Not only are the shoes tailored to the athlete's foot, each shoe weighs about 96g, which may make it the lightest track shoe ever. Fusaro attributes this to the design, not the materials. In fact, in regards to the materials, the SLS nylon isn't as flexible as Fusaro would like. A more flexible material would allow for a more comfort and would optimize speed output.
Regardless of the limitations of the material, the design of the shoe and the process of creating it are one of a kind. In fact, this process may open the possibility for a new generation of athlete-specific footwear.
Source: Designed To Win