Apr 19, 2018 | By David

Sports is an area where 3D printing technology is starting to have a major influence, particularly when it comes to footwear. We’ve seen 3D printed running shoes for marathon attempts and 3D printed baseball cleats, amongst other examples. Continuing in this trend, the world's first 3D printed volleyball shoes recently made an appearance at a major volleyball event. The shoes were developed by Peak Sport, one of China’s largest sportswear brands and an early adopter of 3D printing technology.

Other sportswear manufacturers to implement 3D printing in their development of shoes include German giant Adidas, New Balance, and Nike. Adidas partnered with pioneering California-based company Carbon, which invented the advanced Digital Light Synthesis 3D printing technology. The result of this partnership was the Futurecraft 4D footwear range, which was released in a limited run towards the end of 2017 and should be available again later this year.

We’ve reported before on Peak Sport’s 3D printing firsts, including the first commercially available 3D printed sneaker, as well as the one of the first 3D printed pairs of shoes for basketball, which is the company’s main area of expertise. The basketball shoes featured a complex 3D lattice structure and were developed in collaboration with NBA star Dwight Howard, a player for the Charlotte Hornets.

Peak Sport’s new volleyball breakthrough shows the huge potential of additive manufacturing technology in sports footwear, to develop innovative solutions that will improve comfort as well as athletic performance. These solutions can be customized to the particular needs of athletes, taking into account the way they move their feet during an event and the kind of support they need. The world’s first 3D printed volleyball shoes were demonstrated at this year's China Volleyball League all-star game, where they were introduced by Peak Sport CEO Xu Zhihua with a member of the Olympic volleyball team, Ding Xia.

The main focus for this latest footwear project was on cushioning, for protection as well as flexibility. Volleyball is a sport where players need to have as much upward momentum as possible, as they are constantly jumping off the ground to reach the ball or to add direction or force to their strikes. This means that a well-cushioned shoe is essential, as it will improve flexibility in the initial jumping forces as well as preventing damage to the foot from landings.

(all images, source: Peak)

Peak Sport's design team started out by speaking to a number of male and female professional volleyball players, in order to gather as much information as possible about their specific performance needs and how to help them out during games with footwear that would complement their skills. They also gathered some pertinent data, and combined this with their anecdotal findings to develop a design that would be suitable for a cutting-edge 3D printed volleyball shoe.

Peak Sport realized its designs by making use of advanced SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printing technology, as well as TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) powder. This enabled the production of a more lightweight shoe, with improved flexibility and cushioning for the foot.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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