Nike has just debuted their new Nike Vapor Laser Talon football cleat that utilizes a 3D printed plate that has been specifically designed to enhance the football players’ speed through 40 yds.
The word “Laser” in the name refers to “Selective Laser Sintering” technology , or SLS for short, a form of 3D printing that uses a laser to fuse particles of material together layer by layer. Nike researchers created a proprietary material blend, and were able to produce a fully functional plate and traction system within a fraction of the traditional timeframe and at a fraction of the weight.
Why is speed through the 40 important to football players? Acceleration is very important in many sports and for football the 40-yard dash times are even used by pro scouts to assess a players ability and potential. Nike have worked with Michael Johnson Performance and Nike SPARQ to see how they train a footballer for improved acceleration.
Lance Walker, MJP Performance Director, says that an athlete’s “Zero Step” (the push-off) is a critical point that can make or break an athlete’s 40 time. In the fractions of a second before the first step hits the surface, his propulsion and acceleration speed are determined.
”Nike’s new 3D printed plate is contoured to allow football athletes to maintain their drive position longer and more efficiently, helping them accelerate faster through the critical first 10 yards of the 40″ said Johnson. “Translated to the game of football, mastering the Zero Step can mean the difference between a defensive lineman sacking the quarterback or getting blocked.”
The SLS 3D printing allowed Nike to produce an design that provides optimal traction on football turf that would not of been possible using traditional manufacturing techniques.
Nike intends to use SLS 3D printing technology for cleat designs in footwear designed for other sports. So expect to see these 3D printed cleats on baseball, soccer and rugby cleats in the near future.