Under Armour produces its first 3D-printed performance trainer

Nell Walker
- Technology - Mar 10, 2016

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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