Boston-based sportswear giant New Balance has showcased a keen interest in 3D printing technologies since as far back as 2016, when it unveiled the Zante Generate shoe with a 3D printed midsole—the first 3D printed sneaker to become commercially available (though in extremely limited quantities). When, in 2017, New Balance announced a partnership with Formlabs to develop high performance materials, hardware and process for athletic footwear, it was clear its intentions were to keep pursuing AM.
Today, we have a better picture of the fruits of that partnership, as New Balance has just launched a new platform powered by Formlabs’ 3D printing technology. The platform, called TripleCell, is capable of delivering footwear parts with high-performance cushioning properties.
To kick off the new platform, New Balance has also introduced the 990 Sport sneaker which integrates a 3D printed TripleCell heel and is retailing for $185. On September 15, 2019, the company will also release the FuelCell Echo shoe, which will retail for $175.
Formlabs x New Balance
Since partnering in 2017, 3D printing company Formlabs and New Balance have been working tirelessly to produce high-performance 3D printing materials suitable for footwear. Together, they have introduced a new proprietary photopolymer resin called Rebound Resin, which is designed to create springy and strong lattice structures. When printed, the material reportedly displays the same durability and reliability found in injection molded thermoplastics.
“TripleCell will deliver the industry’s pinnacle expression of data to design with seamless transitions between variable properties underfoot,” said Katherine Petrecca, New Balance General Manager, Innovation Design Studio. “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.”
Dávid Lakatos, Chief Product Officer of Formlabs, added: “3D printing is changing how companies approach manufacturing, with this announcement New Balance is pioneering localized manufacturing. 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.”
Made in USA
The new 990 Sport sneaker model was the perfect shoe to launch the TripleCell platform as it reimagines a classic New Balance silhouette. After all, what better way to ring in the new than with a callback to the old? TripleCell technology was used to produce the shoe’s heel, which provides the same cushioning experience as the traditional shoe model but with a 10% weight reduction.
The upcoming FuelCell Echo sneaker, for its part, integrates a 3D printed forefoot, which was inspired by the growing focus on forefoot technology (built for speed) and the recent launch of the FuelCell platform by New Balance.