HP senior exec Edward Ponomarev showed off a pair of HP-3D printed, HP-branded running shoes prototypes that he just used on a 5 Km run. The shoes are the latest example of 3D printing applied to custom midsole and insole production: they are the first functional running shoes with 3D printed parts from MJF. The shoe weight under 200grams, featuring lightweight uppers (similar to adidas’ Futurecraft), ensuring excellent energy return and cushioning.
HP’s vertical strategy is very much focused on footwear, which is considered a key area of development, and rightly so considering our own strong forecasts for this business segment. HP’s idea is to create affordable custom made and fitted footwear by 3D scanning and printing technology. At the forefront of this strategy is the FitStation Powered by HP, a state-of-the-art technology that scans the foot, analyzes gait and creates a digital, 3D model of the foot. That model is sent to an HP 3D printer, which creates a unique insole that can be worn with any shoe. With FitStation technology in stores, the measuring and scanning process only takes a few minutes.
HP’s footwear 3D printing approach is also very much based on TPU materials for its MJF technology. BASF developed specific TPU materials that are ideal in particular for midsole production using PBF processes. BASF’s Ultrasint TPU01 is a multi-purpose thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) powder explicitly designed for HP’s 5200 series Multi Jet Fusion printers. The material ensures strong, flexible, and durable part performance for typical applications that include footwear.
Also feeding HP’s footwear 3D printing business is the ESTANE 3D TPU M95A materials from Lubrizol, which was specially formulated to provide a more efficient printing experience when compared with elastomers in other powder bed fusion printing technologies. The ESTANE 3D TPU M95A was engineered specifically for additive manufacturing and HP’s Jet Fusion 4200 series 3D printing solution, with a broad potential range of serial production possibilities including footwear. Currently, LUBRIZOL is working to bring its ESTANE 3D TPU M95A and other TPU materials to HP’s higher productivity Jet Fusion 5200 series 3D printing solutions.