Nike Football Accelerates Innovation with 3D printed “Concept Cleat” for Shuttle
February 26, 2014
Nike continues to push the limits of innovation and design by debuting its second football cleat built using 3D printing technology. The Nike Vapor HyperAgility Cleat, built for the shuttle drill (or 5-10-5), has taken innovation and athlete agility to a new level. In the quest to help make athletes better, Nike is accelerating the footwear manufacturing process through 3D printing technology.
Last year, Nike’s “40 Yard Dash Project” redefined the game with new 3D plate construction built for linear speed through the Nike Vapor Laser Talon cleat. Insights captured from the project have revolutionized the way Nike designs and manufactures footwear, helping to inform the Nike Vapor Carbon Cleat design less than a year later.
The new Nike Vapor HyperAgility cleat, born from Nike’s “Shuttle Project,” again takes innovation and traditional footwear manufacturing to a new level. In addition to linear speed, the game of football requires agility and lateral quickness. The mastery of these skills is seen on a grand stage as pro scouts clock athlete’s “shuttle” or “5-10-5” drill times in order to assess them for game-time ability. Optimal traction on turf, reducing deceleration time, and traction confidence, are all critical requirements when “cutting” or changing direction quickly.
With more than 40 years of athlete insights and innovation across sport, Nike again worked with long-time partner and gold medal sprinter, Michael Johnson and his trainers at Michael Johnson Performance to better understand what athletes need for lateral agility in the shuttle drill.
“Just like a race car driver needs confidence in his breaks, an athlete clocking speed in the shuttle needs the same confidence to stop and change direction,” said Michael Johnson, elite athlete and owner of Michael Johnson Performance. “If he can minimize the amount of time it takes to decelerate and change directions, he will unleash his athletic ability and accelerate faster into the turn or cut.”
Translated to the game of football, the shuttle drill shows how quickly an athlete is able accelerate laterally, get to the football, and change directions quickly in a split second.
The Nike Vapor HyperAgility Cleat’s unique plate design uses an amplified, tri-star stud shape enabling maximum speed on turf while creating the optimal traction needed to decelerate and change direction quickly. This ultimately allows athletes to accelerate both linearly and laterally.
The HyperAgility cleat pattern, stud placement and overall shape increases surface traction which in turn empowers the athlete to be more aggressive when they cut,” said Lance Walker, MJP Performance Director. “An athlete’s faith and confidence in his traction ultimately reduces his perceived need to slow down.”
The cleat’s upper is constructed using dynamic Nike Flywire cables, individually hand threaded through the plate and under the foot, providing maximum lockdown to prevent slippage inside the cleat. The mid-cut design also features a proprioceptive compression collar providing a closer fit as well as protection from the studs.
“In order to create a cleat that minimized slippage on the turf when cutting, 3D printing again allowed us to test, iterate and create shapes not possible with traditional manufacturing processes, which in turn allowed us to push the limits of innovation faster,” said Shane Kohatsu, Nike Director of Footwear Innovation. “The HyperAgility cleat helps the athlete accelerate faster, while creating an optimal braking and traction system.”
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a 3D printing technology that uses high-powered lasers to fuse small particles of materials into a 3-dimentional shape. Traditionally this process is used for prototyping, but through proprietary material selection, Nike was again able to create fully functional plate and traction system in a fraction of the traditional timeframe and at a fraction of the weight. Once again, 3D printing has revolutionized the way Nike designs and manufactures footwear, allowing designers to make updates within hours, instead of months, to truly accelerate the innovation process.
With the Nike Vapor Laser Talon cleat built for linear speed, the Nike Vapor HyperAgility cleat built for explosive lateral acceleration, and the Nike Vapor Carbon II built for 360 degree gameday speed, Nike continues to push innovation for athletes across every aspect of the game.