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SBD Global/June 11, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Nike, Adidas Embrace New 3D Printing Technology To Boost Production Speed

Nike and adidas "are embracing 3D printing to speed up the shoemaking process, using the technology to make multiple prototype versions at a previously impossible speed," according to Barney Jopson of the FINANCIAL TIMES. While 3D printing "has generated hype" over potential home use, it is "becoming an important complement to the multinationals’ labour-intensive Asian factories." Nike Innovation Dir Shane Kohatsu said that 3D printing "had accelerated development of its Vapor Laser Talon boot for professional American footballers." Kohatsu: "Within six months we were able to go through 12 rounds of prototype iterations that we fully tested, and ultimately we were able to make super dramatic improvements to our products." Germany’s adidas said that 3D printers "had reduced the time it needed to evaluate a new prototype by four to six weeks to one or two days." Before the advent of 3D printing, adidas prototypes "were handmade by 12 technicians." With the new technology, "no more than two people are required to produce them." The three biggest makers of 3D printers are EOS of Germany, the U.S.’s 3D Systems, and a U.S.-Israeli company Stratasys, which has a client roster that includes Reebok, New Balance and Under Armour as well as Nike and adidas (FT, 6/9). CNBC’s Brian Sullivan noted that in F1, teams are now “bringing 3D printers with them and at the track, if something breaks, they will make the part right there” (“Squawk On The Street,” CNBC, 6/10).
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