Nike exec says we’ll be 3D printing sneakers at home soon
He was at the summit to discuss Nike’s Flyknit sneaker technology, and what it means for the future of shoe design. Flyknit sneakers are knitted shoes that Sprunk describes as “a sweater on your foot.” Nike makes them by simply feeding a file with the design into a knitting machine.
This is very similar to how the company would use 3D printing technology. Customers would design their shoes online and purchase a file that contains instructions for the 3D printer. They can then either print it at home or bring it to a Nike store to be printed and have their customized shoes within hours. Sprunk says: “Oh yeah, that’s not that far away.”
There are still a couple of obstacles that the company has to resolve before going forward. First, it’s not exactly common, or inexpensive, for customers to purchase their own 3D printers; second, the technology for printing a sneaker sole does not yet exist. Even Flyknits have their soles attached separately.
Nike is an innovative company with a huge initiative known as the “manufacturing revolution.” The footwear manufacturer recently worked on a prototype with runner Eliud Kipchoge. Kipchoge wore the sneakers during the Berlin Marathon last month. He missed the world record, but did reach a personal best time despite his shoes falling apart around the 10-mile mark.