How 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing is Influencing the Development of Sports Goods

All serious sports men and women like to think that they are unique and individual in their approach to their chosen sport or training regime. But when it comes to the equipment they use they are forced into wearing or using the same gear that their friends or competitor uses, the world of mass manufacture does not allow for individual customisation. Whether it is a pair of the latest running shoes or a new putter, the consumer’s choice is always the same as their closest rival.

But now with the prevalence on additive manufacturing and 3D printing companies and individuals can start to realise their dream of having a squash racket or golf club specifically designed and manufactured for them. This can include customising the balance, weight and grip of a club to suit a golfer and major companies in this sport are now able to offer this service to their customers.

Today products that have traditionally be made from hard to prototype malleable materials such as foam and rubber are starting to be supplied as one off or specials to the serious enthusiast. Take a look at the work Adidas and New balance have been conducting in this area. The sports trainer market is huge and benefits from not only the athlete demographic, but also the fashion market so cutting edge, forward thinking companies in this sector can offer performance focused bespoke products to their sponsored professionals and serious amateurs, but also now the general public can have a pair of trainers designed and printed to suit a particular outfit or mood. If your pockets are deep enough!

One day it is presumed that many consumer goods, not just in the sports sector will be able to be “manufactured” individually for the customer, so one day in years to come you may find yourself going into Footlocker and instead of being faced with a wall of half a pair of trainers, you may be presented with a touch screen interface with the basic design of your trainer shape ready for you to customise and adapt before collecting your creation from the 3D printer by the checkout.