Under Armour produces its first 3D-printed performance trainer
Under Armour, the global leader in innovative performance footwear, apparel and equipment has taken footwear innovation to the next level. Today, the brand introduced its first-ever 3D printed performance trainer, the UA Architech. The UA Architech is a 360-degree performance training shoe that features a functional 3D printed midsole and 3D ClutchFit auxetic upper design that creates a 'super-hybrid' trainer. This performance trainer provides athletes with the ultimate stability and cushioning to take on the most intense workouts.
Autodesk Within software was used to generatively design the lattice midsole for a stable heel structure with the appropriate elements of cushioning for strength training. Generative design is a pioneering technology central to the future of making things, where a computer algorithm creates structures based on desired criteria like durability, flexibility and weight. It results in complex, high-performing structures that require 3D printing to fabricate.
UA wanted to provide a training shoe that supports athletes through a variety of exercises and workouts in the gym without having to change their shoes. The answer was the result of a two-year research and development process where the UA Innovation team studied geometric shapes, materials, and structures to create a unique yet functional midsole design. The final structure, consisting of an interlaced lattice design, can only be created through a proprietary 3D printing process. The innovative 3D printed midsole was combined with a flow-molded 3D ClutchFit auxetic upper to provide athletes with a shoe that not only gives a locked-in, supportive feel, but also flexes and moves with the foot to provide a Zero Distractions experience. Add in the brand’s unparalleled Charged Cushioning underfoot for responsiveness and comfort, and a thin rubber outsole for traction and you have Under Armour’s most elite performance trainer, the UA Architech.
The shoe, which will retail for $299.99, will be the first 3D printed performance trainer available to consumers. 96 pairs—a nod to the year UA was founded, in 1996— will be available to consumers.
How generative design helped Under Armour make its first 3D printed performance trainer
In 1996 Under Armour broke into the athletic market by reinventing the humble t-shirt. Now a powerhouse brand, Under Armour is pushing the boundaries on high-performance athletic gear. So as the company approached its 20th anniversary, the UA Innovation team looked to up the ante on the brand’s performance training footwear. The team wanted to design a lightweight, highly stable, and cushioning shoe to support athletes during the most intense workouts. Among the many innovations and technologies that the team brought to bear for its new UA Architech was a combination of generative design and 3D printing.
Autodesk software was critical to the team at Under Armour achieving some of the key goals for the shoe. Notably, Autodesk Within was used to generatively design the lattice midsole for a stable heel structure with the appropriate elements of cushioning for strength training. Generative design is a pioneering technology central to the future of making things, where a computer algorithm creates structures based on desired criteria like durability, flexibility and weight. It results in complex, high-performing structures that human designers would never conceive of otherwise, and — as is the case with the UA Architech — requires 3D printing to fabricate. Autodesk Fusion 360 software was also integral to the shoe’s concept development and refinement.
The result: the first commercially available 3D printed performance trainer.
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IMF: Variants Can Still Hurt Manufacturing Recovery
After a year of on-and-off manufacturing in the US, UK, and the eurozone, demand for goods surged early last week. Factories set growth records in April and May, suppliers started to recover, and US crude hit its highest price point since pre-COVID. As vaccination efforts immunise much of the US and UK populations, manufacturers are now able to fully ramp up their supply chains. In fact, GDP growth could approach double-digits by 2022.
Now, the ISM productivity measure has surpassed the 50-point mark that separates industry expansion from contraction. Since U.S. president Biden passed his US$1.9tn stimulus package and the UK purchasing managers index (PMI) increased to 65.6, both sides of the Atlantic are facing a much-welcomed manufacturing recovery.
Lingering Concerns Over COVID
Even as Spain, France, Italy, and Germany race to catch up, and mining companies pushed the FTSE 100 index of list shares to a monthly high of 7,129, some say that UK and US markets still suffer from a lack of confidence in raw material supplies. Yes, the Dow Jones has made up its 19,173-point crash of March 2020, and MSCI’s global stock index is at an all-time high.
Yet manufacturers around the world realise that these wins will be short-lived until pandemic supply chain bottlenecks are solved. If we keep the status quo, consumers will pay the price. In April, inflation in Germany reached 2.4%, and across the EU’s 19 member countries, overall prices have increased at an unusual pace. Some ask: Is this true recovery?
IMF: Current Boom Could Falter
Even as Elon Musk tweeted about chip shortages forcing Tesla to raise its prices, UK mining demand skyrocketed; housing markets lifted; and the pound sterling gained value. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), however, cautioned that manufacturing recovery won’t last long if COVID mutates into forms our vaccinations can’t touch. Kristalina Georgieva, Washington’s IMF director, noted that fewer than 1% of African citizens have been vaccinated: “Worldwide access to vaccines offers the best hope for stopping the coronavirus pandemic, saving lives, and securing a broad-based economic recovery”.
Across the globe, manufacturing companies are keeping a watchful eye on new developments in the spread of COVID. Though US FDA officials don’t think we’ll have to “start at square one” with new vaccines, the March 2021 World Economic Outlook states that “high uncertainty” surrounds the projected 6% global growth. Continued manufacturing success will in large part depend on “the path of the pandemic, the effectiveness of policy support, and the evolution of financial conditions”.
Mathias Cormann, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) concurred—without global immunisation, the estimated economic boom expected by 2025 could go kaput. “We need to...pursue an all-out effort to reach the entire world population”, Australia’s finance minister added. US$50bn to end COVID across the world, they imply, is a small investment to restart our economies.