May 7, 2016 | By Benedict

Sportwear company Under Armour has received the A’ Design Award in the Footwear, Shoes and Boots category for its 3D printed Architech training shoe. The shoe was released in a limited batch of 96 pairs, selling out in 19 minutes.

In the footwear game, speed is everything—and not just on the running track. When Maryland-based sportswear company Under Armour released the first 3D printed training shoe for the consumer market back in March, both the sporting and tech worlds took note. A month later, New Balance released its own 3D printed running shoe, the Zante Generate, but it was Under Armour who crossed the finish line first, and in some style.

In late April, Under Armour’s groundbreaking achievement was formally recognized by some highly respected voices in the design community. In Como, Italy, the Maryland company was awarded the A’ Footwear, Shoes and Boots Design Award, an international design accolade, for its “Architech” 3D printed shoe. A panel of 83 experts, including artists, stylists, and academics, reached the decision, with over a hundred other categories, such as furniture, lighting, and home appliance design, also evaluated.

The impressive 3D printed Architech shoe is the result of two years of hard work by design team Alan Guyan, John Acevedo, and Alan Toronjo. Over that busy period, the trio researched organic shapes and structures, which eventually inspired the 3D printed lattice design used in the shoe. This lattice structure purportedly provides a high level of dynamic stability for the wearer, and is most easily realized with the help of a 3D printer. No wonder the design is becoming popular in medical 3D printing and the aerospace industry. The 3D printed lattice structure makes up the entire midsole of the Architech, with the upper part of the design featuring a 3D “Auxetic" pattern which stretches to adapt to the shape of the foot.

Most importantly for Under Armour, punters have been sufficiently inspired by the 3D printed design to pay big money for the shoes: the $300 Architech was initially released in a limited batch of 96 pairs, which sold out in just 19 minutes on the company’s website. This positive response has led the company to continue down the 3D printing path: "We will continue to test and learn with this technology and customization," said Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank. "You can expect new 3D printed iterations later this year."

Six other entrants also received the A’ Design Award in the shoe category, with Tehran-based Atossa 3D printed footwear also flying the flag for additively manufactured shoes—theirs being more fashion-oriented than Under Armour’s sporting design. Under Armour, however, received the special honor of a “Platinum” award, granting Guyan, Acevedo, and Toronjo an invitation to a special black-tie awards ceremony in Italy.

To ensure a fair process, each member of the A’ Design Award panel submitted their vote anonymously. A jury member in the fashion category left the following anonymous feedback for the Under Armour 3D printed shoe: ”This design is truly amazing and appealing. For the first time in my life, I honestly [desire] and feel the urge to have a sports shoe. It is good to see innovation again blossoming at footwear design field.”

Receiving the design award provides good press for Under Armour, but business appears to be booming regardless: Under Armour stock surged on April 21 after the company posted impressive Q1 earnings which far surpassed analyst expectations. Footwear sales improved 64% year over year to $264 million, representing over a quarter of total sales.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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