While sneaker manufacturers have been toying with the idea of 3D printing shoes for quite some time, none of them have quite been brave enough to start selling in stores. Now that’s changing, as New Balance is bringing its 3D printed Zante Generate to market, straight from the future to your feet.
If the Zante Generate’s upper looks familiar, that’s because it’s borrowed from the existing Fresh Foam Zante 2. Its high-tech upper is the perfect pairing to the new 3D-printed midsole.
But the 3D printing used to create the Zante Generate’s outsole isn’t the same fused filament methods you’d find on most home models. Instead, New Balance worked with 3D systems on a method called laser sintering. Rather than laying down strings of melted plastic, a laser burns powder in a predetermined pattern, welding the material together. In this case, it’s a DuraForm TPU Elastomer, like a much stronger version of the flexible smartphones cases.
The end result is an outsole with hundreds of tiny open cells. It’s much more flexible than solid TPU or foam would be, and as a result of the open structure, is impressively lightweight – perfect for running.
New Balance President and CEO Robert DeMartini couldn’t be prouder of the accomplishment. “Our unique position as both a manufacturer and retailer allows us to bring the world’s first 3D printed running midsole to market. The Zante Generate demonstrates the strength of New Balance design and innovation and will allow consumers to own a piece of running technology history.”
But before you go dashing out the door in the Zante Generate, you should know that they’re seeing a very limited release. Just 44 pairs will be sold at the New Balance Experience Store in Boston, Massachusetts. They’ll start selling them on April 15th at 9:00 AM eastern, and innovation doesn’t come cheap, as a pair will run you $400.