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When you shop for new athletic shoes, chances are your key concerns come down to size, fit, and style. Beyond that, most things likely seem irrelevant, not the least of which the material and method of manufacture. New Balance may soon change that, however, with the launch of the first commercially available, high performance running shoe with a 3D printed midsole.

First things first, what’s a midsole and why is it important? The midsole is the portion of the shoe base that is sandwiched between the outsole (the portion that touches the ground) and the upper (the portion that touches your foot). In other words, the midsole is everything that provides cushioning and support to your foot.

So why 3D print it? With 3D printing, you can optimize structures to put as much or as little material precisely where you want it. This means new and organic geometries are possible through the bottom-up process of building layer-by-layer. Taking advantage of these benefits, New Balance has achieved an anatomical breakthrough in the full range of desired midsole characteristics, from flexibility and strength, to weight and durability.

New Balance has been making and testing functional 3D printed midsoles since 2012, but has recently made significant advancements in performance via a collaboration with 3D Systems and our SLS material, DuraForm® Flex TPU. Leveraging this new elastomeric powder and working in close collaboration with our team of material scientists, New Balance’s running experts and biomechanical engineers have developed a shoe that truly leaves others in the dust.

Find out more about what makes DuraForm Flex TPU so unique.

You can get your own pair of these limited edition, state-of-the-art running shoes in Boston this April, and then later at select New Balance retail locations worldwide.

Of course, this might just be the start of a larger trend towards 3D printed running shoes. Successful testing of customized 3D printed track spikes and soccer cleats by top athletes have already proven the performance-enhancing potential for bespoke athletic footwear. This has paved the way for wider and more accessible customization possibilities in the field, and 3D printing could be the key to unlocking this potential.

In any event, our pioneering collaboration with the running experts at New Balance looks to be a step in the right direction for athletes everywhere.

Happy trails!