New Balance’s new TripleCell 3D printing platform, based on Formlabs technology, is bringing new partially 3D printed shoes to market.
The first shoes from the TripleCell launch are available today, with another design coming in September. The 990 Sport, available now for $185, will be joined on September 15th by the $175 FuelCell Echo. Both feature 3D printed lattice-structured midsole parts.
New Balance 3D Printing
New Balance has had its eyes on bringing 3D printing into its shoe line for some time, starting work in midsoles back in 2012. In 2015, the company teamed up with 3D Systems for an SLS solution using TPU. Work with EOS focused on spike plates for elite runners. The work with Formlabs has taken us straight back to consumer footwear — and at a pretty accessible price point.
Formlabs and New Balance have been working together for the past two years to develop specific high-performance 3D printing resins to make new mass-production athletic shoes a reality. The two Boston-based companies announced their partnership in June 2017, initially aiming for production in 2018 to be based on the Form 2 system.
Formlabs has since gone bigger, with the Form 3 and the significantly larger Form 3L debuting earlier this year.
And of course the “FuelCell” and “TripleCell” in the and shoes’ and platform’s names are reminiscent of Formlabs’ automated Form Cell setup, which is highly functional in production environments — though FuelCell is an existing brand from New Balance, and seems to just be a happy coincidence.
The material developed through the Formlabs partnership is called Rebound Resin. It is “designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures with the durability, reliability, and longevity expected from an injection molded thermoplastic,” according to New Balance.
Partially 3D Printed Shoes
The first shoe, the 990 Sport, is available in ‘extremely limited quantities.’ The 3D printed structure in this design is in the heel component, offering ultra-light cushioning — 10% lighter than its predecessor, the classic 990v5 shoe.
The 3D printed heel and rear view of the 990 Sport [Images: New Balance]
For the FuelCell Echo, the forefoot is the 3D printing focus, “based on the growing focus of forefoot technology and the learnings taken from the recent launch of the FuelCell platform.”
So neither is quite the full midsole as we’ve become used to seeing in adidas’ Futurecraft 4D shoes made with Carbon’s technology — but these also come in well under those styles’ $300 price tag.
It’s also an interesting side note that of these two, only the 990 Sport is fully made in the US, produced at the New Balance Lawrence factory. The FuelCell Echo is assembled in the US, New Balance notes, but the announcement doesn’t disclose the actual site of manufacture. The company also underscores the importance of its place in US manufacturing:
“TripleCell will deliver the industry’s pinnacle expression of data to design with seamless transitions between variable properties underfoot”, says 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“
More details about the 990 Sport TripleCell shoe are available here from New Balance.
Via New Balance