Beijing, China: Chinese sports brand Peak Sport Products has developed the world’s first pair of 3D printed volleyball shoes which made their appearance at the 2018 China Volleyball League.
Introduced by Xu Zhihua, the company’s chief executive officer, and the member of the Olympic volleyball team, Ding Xia, the shoes’ 3D printed soles are made of thermoplastic polyurethane—TPU, a lightweight and flexible materials 3D printed on a selective laser sintering printer.
For a sport that requires continuous upward momentum and rapid change of direction, such TPU 3D printed soles offer ideal cushioning for the feet during each jump, in addition to the flexibility to facilitate agility.
Without compromising on performance and aesthetics, the capacity for customisation is another important benefit that such additive manufacturing technology allows. Shoes can therefore be custom made for each athlete, ensuring fit and comfort unlike that provided by conventional and generic ones.
Other sportswear manufacturers applying 3D printing in the development of shoes include Adidas, New Balance, and Nike.
Peak Sport had initially gathered information from volleyball athletes to gain understanding on their individual, as well as the sport’s requirements.
In 2017, the company also developed the first commercial 3D printed sneakers, and a pair of partially 3D printed basketball shoes for NBA’s Dwight Howard—who lauded the shoes for their comfort and performance.
“It’s a lot better than the traditional basketball shoes. I can clearly feel the 3D printed sole and the vamp side wall to give the feet more comfortable wearing experience,” explained Dwight, a member of Charlotte Hornets.
Despite the benefits, Peak has not commented on when the volleyball shoes will be commercially available. However, with this new additive manufactured soles—and Nike’s recently released running shoes with their 3D upper, the path towards fully 3D printed sport shoes is promising.