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Is 3D Printing the game changer for New Balance?

Footwear company New Balance has announced the launch of a 3D printing platform known as TripleCell, in collaboration with 3D printing firm Formlabs.It is clear to see in recent years how consumer demands have changed. The modern consumer demands custom products that can be ordered from anywhere, from a variety of devices, and quickly delivered. On digital platforms, customization is everywhere.

However, the harsh reality is that physical products, and their manufacturing processes, have not caught up or evolved.

3D printing offers the freedom to affordably produce complex, customized structures. This is something that New Balance has understood the potential of for some time, but needed a way to move the technology from prototyping into production at scale, and find a material suitable for end-use in footwear.

They needed a 3D printing material that would withstand the necessary manufacturing and end-use applications, plus offer performance beyond what’s possible with foam, however no such material existed. 

This is where the Formlabs materials team entered the equation, developing a completely new material from the ground up. The result is Rebound Resin. Designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures, Rebound Resin has a much higher energy return, tear strength, and elongation than any other Formlabs stereolithography (SLA) resin.

The TripleCell platform is said to deliver the same cushioning effect present in traditional methods, while being 10% lighter. It will be incorporated in New Balance's 990 Sport and FuelCell Echo products, with the former launched on 28th June and the latter launching on 15th September.

“3D printing is changing how companies approach manufacturing, with this announcement New Balance is pioneering localized manufacturing," said Dávid Lakatos, Chief Product Officer of Formlabs. “By eliminating the dependence on molds and direct printing for both prototyping and production, their team shifts from months to hours in the development and production cycles. We’re moving towards a world where design cycles are closing in on the whim of the consumer and it’s exciting to be on the frontlines of this with New Balance.”

Katherine Petrecca from New Balance's Innovation Studio added; "TripleCell will deliver the industry’s pinnacle expression of data to design with seamless transitions between variable properties underfoot”.

“This new, cutting edge, digitally manufactured technology is now scaling exclusively within New Balance factories in the U.S. further establishing us as a leader in 3D printing and domestic manufacturing. Formlabs has been an integral partner to bring this to life. We’re really going to be able to disrupt the industry not only in performance, but also in athlete customization and speed to market.“

 

I am a 30-year-old tech lover, self-confessed geek and football fanatic! When I am not playing with the latest gadget you will often find me watching my favourite TV shows including Game of Thrones, Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @robbiedunion or Twitter @robbiedunion

3 Jul 2019, 7:06