How 3D printing is changing the way Nike approaches production and innovation

How 3D printing is enhancing the prototyping, innovation and production processes at Nike.

Since Nike was founded in 1972, they have been a leader of innovation and elite performance quality in the sporting goods industry, particularly with shoes which drove ~60% of their $31B in revenue in 2017 [1]. This innovative mindset can be seen in historical investments in shoe performance technology, with Nike being the first to develop rubber spikes and air sole cushioning for improved performance [2]. It is therefore unsurprising that they have been among the first apparel companies to invest in 3D printing, a type of additive manufacturing, to enhance their shoe prototype and production process. Compared to manual manufacturing, 3D printing can significantly reduce the time needed to iterate through different prototyping designs and costs associated with upfront investment in tools [3]. This provides flexibility and agility to create higher quality products and deliver them to the market ahead of competitors. Nike has claimed that since partnering with HP’s 3D printing lab in 2012 their prototyping is now 16 times faster [4] than other manufacturing methods. This benefit is echoed by one of their core competitors Adidas, who also stated that prototyping processes reduced from 4-6 weeks to as little as 2-4 days [3]. Additionally, 3D printing was estimated in 2017 by Morgan Stanley to provide a 10% cost efficiency at Nike [5], while Forbes estimated a reduction in Nike’s environmental footprint by $3.5M. [7]

Nike’s management team have made a few key decisions to capture value from 3D printing technology in the shorter term. Firstly, Nike has used patents to maintain a competitive and innovative edge in the industry. Nike has “nearly doubled [it’s design patents] since 2009 and the company has the third largest U.S. portfolio of design patents” [7]. Specifically, in 2015 they received approval for a patent for affixing a shoe upper to the midsole. [6] Secondly, in 2012 Nike partnered with HP’s 3D printing lab which provides valuable access to market-leading 3D printers. This is particularly important given how rapidly the technology is changing, and how influential the technology is for delivering the highest quality products. Finally, Nike has committed to innovation by expanding beyond using 3D printing solely for shoe components to an entire shoe. In 2016 they created the first 3D printed upper shoe, called the “FlyKnit” shoe, which uses data about an athlete’s foot to determine the best type of material and composition for their shoe, then uses a 3D knitting process to create the shoe. This knitting process has been shown to create a more dynamic, breathable, higher performing shoe. [8]

While 3D printing has currently focused on specific innovations and prototyping, in the longer term Nike has to consider the potential implications of mass production using 3D printing, the shift in consumer buyer behavior, the rise of home 3D printing, and how to remain at the forefront as the technology advances.

Nike has committed to testing HP’s mass production 3D printers, implying mass production may be on the horizon [7]. This comes at a timely moment, as in 2017 Adidas committed to mass producing 100,000 shoes through their partnership with 3D printing company Carbon [9]. Nike has also considered the implications of a shift in consumer buying behavior if 3D printers become common-place in the home or at outlet malls where customizable shoes could be created. [9] In 2015, Nike’s COO stated that one goal was for consumers to no longer be “tethered to in-store offerings” and would be able to purchase a shoe design file to print at home themselves. [10]

In addition to their current strategy, I believe that Nike should consider expanding the use of 3D printing in prototyping to apparel and other expensive equipment (e.g., tennis rackets and golf clubs) to get elite athlete feedback and deliver performance improvements at a faster pace to potential leap ahead of competitors in other product categories. Furthermore, there needs to be critical analysis of the impact of mass-production and other potential trends for this technology. While the benefit of 3D printing for prototypes seem clear, the jury is still out on mass production. There are many additional aspects to consider such as the net cost impact, the impact on workforce location, size and skill set, overall environmental impact, and consumer value perception that are more difficult to assess at this point.

The outcomes of this analysis and the market trends will have rippling effects that transcend Nike’s strategy, organizational design and financial results and may shift the sporting goods industry forever. Some core open ended questions are:

  1. Will 3D printing become a viable method for mass-production for consumer goods?
  2. If so, what are some of the potential unforeseen consequences, both positive and negative, that could arise for businesses and society more broadly?

(Word count: 787)

Sources:

[1]: Revenue from footwear segment of Nike, Adidas and Puma from 2010 to 2017 (in billion U.S. dollars), from website https://www.statista.com/statistics/278834/revenue-nike-adidas-puma-footwear-segment/ , accessed 11/13/18

[2]: HBS Case, Nike Football: World Cup 2010 South Africa; authors: Elie Ofek and Ryan Johnson, revised: January 17, 2013

[3]: “ New stamping ground for Nike and Adidas as 3D shoes kick off”, June 9th 2013, article on financial time website, https://www.ft.com/content/1d09a66e-d097-11e2-a050-00144feab7de, accessed 11/10/18

[4]: “Nike uses athlete date to 3D print customized footwear”, 17th April 2018, online article, https://techcircle.vccircle.com/2018/04/17/nike-uses-athlete-data-to-3d-print-customised-footwear, accessed 11/11/18

[5] “A revolution is coming in the way your sneakers are designed and manufactured”, June 8th 2017, Quartz online, https://qz.com/1000737/a-revolution-is-coming-in-the-way-your-sneakers-are-designed-and-manufactured/ , 11/11/18

[6] “Nike was just granted a key patent for 3D printed shoe technology”, article online, 14th October 2015, https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/nike-patents-3d-printed-shoe-technology/, accessed 11/11/18

[7] “Here’s how Nike is innovating to scale up its manufacturing”, article on Forbes website, May 18th 2016, https://www.forbes.com/sites/greatspeculations/2016/05/18/heres-how-nike-is-innovating-to-scale-up-its-manufacturing/#545fa3381497, accessed 11/11/18

[8] “What is Nike Flyprint?”, article online Nike website, April 17th 2018,  https://news.nike.com/news/nike-flyprint-3d-printed-textile , accessed 11/11/18

[9] “ Adidas unveils industry’s first application of digital light synthesis with Futurecraft 4D”, article on Adidas website, 7th April 2017, https://www.adidas-group.com/en/media/news-archive/press-releases/2017/adidas-unveils-industrys-first-application-digital-light-synthes/ , accessed 11/11/18

[10] “Nike COO says in-home 3D printed shoes are not far in the future”, April 2015, online article, https://inside3dprinting.com/news/nike-coo-says-in-home-3d-printed-shoes-are-not-far-in-the-future/35870/, accessed: 11/11/18

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42 thoughts on “How 3D printing is changing the way Nike approaches production and innovation

  1. A positive impact I feel this would have on the world is to potentially lower the cost of accessing shoes. This will mean that people living in more rural, developing areas (or even in space!) will have access to products they may not have had before. Further, if one could re-use the input material to create a new shoe based on a different design, the environmental impact could be significant.

  2. I appreciate Nike and Addidas’s perspectives on the mass production of shoes by additive methods, but am truly skeptical, like the author, of the feasibility of this approach on a meaningful time horizon. The cost impact of R&D for these emerging technologies compared to current methods just does not support a dramatic shift anytime soon.

  3. Your article is well-written and effectively highlights the ways in which Nike has developed additive manufacturing and secured a competitive advantage through the technology. The important question that you pose regarding unforeseen consequences is challenging to even consider because of additive’s relatively limited scope in most people’s daily lives. Is there a day in the future where homes have their own 3D printers, and instead of Nike physically manufacturing a shoe and customers ordering it from a store or website, customers buy a license to the shoe data and print it at home? In such a case, what happens to the many jobs involved in that shoe’s development? This situation seems far off, but it’s an important thought experiment nonetheless. I think it shows that additive is pushing the manufacturing industry in a direction more focused on technical skills and computer science. In the short term, if companies like Nike want to maintain their competitive advantage, they need to focus on educating and training their workforce in the technical aspects of 3D printing. GE recently opened an Additive Training Center near Cincinnati and holds several “manufacturing boot camps” each year to train its engineers in additive processes. This might be a training model Nike can develop as well.

  4. I enjoyed your article, Phil. The 16x prototyping speed improvement due to additive manufacturing is truly impressive. Especially when you consider the scope of Nike’s product portfolio. While I fully believe in the prototyping benefits that additive manufacturing can provide, I am hesitant to believe that it can me a viable manufacturing solution for mass-produced goods. For the volumes of product that Nike produces, the process would be too slow and too costly. Though you do raise a good question when it comes to the possible impact that additive could have on premium athletic equipment (golf-clubs, tennis rackets).

  5. I agree with a few of the points made above that additive manufacturing is still some ways away from being incorporated into mass production – largely because of the cost of production at this point. I see the primary benefit of additive manufacturing as the precise nature of the component or item being produced, but there are still several limits on the 1) types of materials that can be used in assembly with these machines, 2) the speed at which components can be fashioned, and most importantly 3) the cost of production.

    In sports apparel, I feel that the ultimate implication of additive manufacturing (implied by the “Flyknit” portion of the article above where Nike is developing components of a shoe suited to an athlete) is the development of truly custom apparel that’s better suited to individuals physique and style of play.

  6. Like my fellow sectionmates, I question the financial feasibility of Nike’s approach to 3D printing. Based on the data shared above, it feels as though Nike is pretty behind its competitors on commercializing the 3D printing technology and commercializing it at scale. Sure, it was able to unveil its new “FlyPrint” technology on a textile upper, customized for a specific athlete, but it appears to be significantly behind timelines on its actual market launch. In the 2015 article cited above, Nike’s COO projected imminent commercialization over 3 years ago, and it still hasn’t really launched at scale, versus competitor Adidas, who has been able to release a few iterations of the its Futurecraft 4D midsole (https://www.forbes.com/sites/andriacheng/2018/05/22/with-adidas-3d-printing-may-finally-see-its-mass-retail-potential/). Nike has always put innovation first (e.g., the immense success of Flyknit as a single-thread textile upper), but its success hinges on being first to market on new innovation. I wonder if Nike has missed the boat, to some extent, on this particular innovation in footwear.

  7. While 3D printing for prototyping seems like a natural fit for many products, I am less optimistic for its use for Nike products. Nike products are innovative largely because of the material composition of their products – whether lightweight, waterproof, breathable, etc. 3D printing has limited ability (if any) to incorporate these key material differences in prototypes, which could yield the prototypes ineffective and unrepresentative of the actual product’s performance. Given the fact that improvement is often at the margins of improving these key features, I’m reluctant to conclude that the investment in 3D printing for this use is worthwhile.

  8. As an avid runner, I support the idea of 3D printing being available for a broader assortment of consumer products, such as Nike running footwear. It would be cool to get custom shoes specifically fit to my foot and in my preferred colors / patterns. On the positive side, consequences of this might be footwear that is better able to adjust to the human body (such as improved fit, tensile properties of the sole, etc.), improved athletic performance (such as the human body being able to break a 4.00 minute mile) and increased sales for Nike. However, on the negative side, unforeseen consequences might be increased economic inequality (as customized products might come at a higher price point) and greater waste if used shoes are not able to be donated.

  9. Very interesting take on additive manufacturing. My only concern is its actual expected net social contribution which I believe will be negative in the long-run. With 3D-printing mass production, it is not clear to me whether more people will have access to affordable shoes or if the same people will just be able to buy more shoes? For Nike, either answer translates into the same financial figures but the company is depleting natural resources and materials while creating externalities for other industries/geographies.

    In many emerging markets, athletic shoes are imported goods which are often subject to tariffs and significant nationalization costs which render them materially more expensive than local alternatives. Unless Nike is able to deliver on a material cost reductions and to pass it on to consumers, I don’t believe the cost savings from 3D printing mass production will permeate to people that can’t currently afford Nike running shoes and create a positive social impact. Moreover, should this mass production technology become mainstream in the future, many employees would be redundant and layoffs would be massive across the shoe manufacturing industry. Overall I believe 3D printing mass production by itself will not deliver positive societal benefits unless it is combined with other initiatives such as sustainability (materials) and renewable energy (manufacturing plants).

  10. While I do think 3D printing bears benefits on prototyping, I think Nike might face challenges if choosing to 3D print apparel and other equipment such as tennis rackets. The quality of those products is a critical component of the athlete experience, and to receive proper feedback on the product, I believe the prototypes should be close to the end quality of the product. Unless 3D printing can expand its raw material input, I think this approach could prove challenging.

  11. I agree customization will continue to be key in sustaining differentiation in an increasingly competitive market with new entrants. 3D printing is an interesting vehicle to deliver this in an efficient manner. Interestingly, another member of the community touched on Adidas’s focus on this. They have the resources and scale to at least experiment with this appropriately, but also each can’t take on the risk of falling behind the other in such an important piece of the value chain.
    Is now the time however to further invest in the “in store” experience given the shift to e-commerce? Per your point above, is this simply just a marketing scheme? Does 3D printing have the same appeal in a factory/warehouse setting in terms of overall value proposition to the customer relative to cost to the company?

  12. I agree with how you laid out the argument for Nike’s innovation with prototyping, especially considering how additive manufacturing have impact on large scale production. I particularly enjoyed your mention of workforce skill and location, since I have been focused on that space in the past. One interesting additional question to raise is whether Nike has responsibility over training and supporting its workforce as they are introducing technological innovation, given that education is one of the strongest barriers for employment in some of the countries they operate in. Beyond their social responsibility, this can be a factor to consider from an employee motivation point.

  13. One factor in which we will need to evaluate additive manufacturing by is the impact on the environment, especially given the impact manufacturing has on global warming today. While 3D printing may require less transpiration, the energy needed per unit produced is higher. In addition much of 3D printing uses plastics which can end up in the oceans or landfills and sit for centuries. Whether 3D printing can become greener is a critical area of focus going forward.

  14. I think the concept of additive manufacturing / 3D printing in the mass manufacturing world is interesting but ultimately doesn’t seem feasible or valuable to me in the context of shoe manufacturing. While the benefits are obvious and many in the prototyping process (and potentially for bespoke and niche products where this manufacturing can become a part of the consumer experience), they’re less clear in mass manufacturing. As we all learned in the Nike case, labor is the largest driver of COGS (not materials), so I’m unsure the material savings from additive manufacturing would realistically over the high upfront cost of these technologies.

  15. I wonder if Nike’s ability to reduce the product development cycle, through additive manufacturing, gives them additional avenues to connect with their consumer. Nike could consider crowdsourcing designs from consumers to create a new, engaging experience. In the past, Nike has created emotional connects with their consumers through athletic experiences. This design-creation experience could be a way to create brand loyalty among a new consumer group, and it’s more feasible now because of the decreased lead time in the product development cycle.

  16. I enjoyed your article greatly, especially for the part where you compared Nike’s short term strategy with using 3D printing for prototyping versus long term strategy when 3D printing becomes common-place at home and how that impact would be. My assumption is that there will be some democratization of manufacturing in the long term- and in this case, product design will be more of Nike’s competitive advantage than their manufacturing ability.

  17. This is a very well written article, highlighting both sides of the story. My only concern with this approach of 3D printing is gaining scale over time. You have mentioned that 3D printing will become a household name in near future, but I am a bit skeptical about this growth especially because of cost and awareness of benefits. Also, in my past experience I worked in geotextiles where 3D printing work started ages ago, but has not been able to scale so far.

  18. Great read, and an excellent point. It seems to me that one of the few ways that 3D printing really shines is in highly customizable apparel, such as shoes and garments. It’s the one place where the manufacturing technology can actually open up new design possibilities and be a cheaper alternative to traditional methods. I’m excited to see customized footwear become commonplace, but I also do worry a bit about the possibility that there will be large advantages for athletes with the funds to purchase these customized pieces. Previously only the highest level athletes would have things customized for them, but now will it become a class divisor?

  19. Love this topic area– 3D printing in retail, particularly at Nike, presents so many interesting opportunities for innovation and efficiency gains. As you alluded to in your article, the market for customization is opened up in a whole new way when leveraging 3D printing technology. All foot shapes are slightly different, and many people deal with a vast range of issues from flat feet to pronation and beyond. Integrating care for these issues in the design of the shoe could significantly transform the footware (and podiatrist) industry, and make a signifiant impact in foot health and performance.

  20. In addition to prototyping, 3D printing can facilitate mass production if the production process can be effectively modularized. Components of different specifications can be produced using 3D printers quickly and then are assembled into finished products. The more granular Nike can divide their products into highly standardized modules, the higher the efficiency 3D printers can run.

  21. Very interesting read! The first thing that actually comes to my mind in a future dominated by at-home production via 3-D printing is the potential for counterfeit merchandise. Given accessible materials and design, why not print my own Nikes at home rather than buy them at the store, in the same way people pirate software today? I think 3-D printing highlights the value therefore of material copyrights and protected design patents. You mention the increased ability of Nike to rapidly prototype and refine products, but a key limiting factor in design is the human input from professional players, and the testing required to iterate the designs. I’d be interested to see how AI can help with the designs, given an understanding of comfort and performance parameters.

  22. At the moment, 3D printing shows the most value in high end customization. While there may be a market for elaborate, custom designs, I’m interested to see how 3D printed footwear might be used to make fashionable prosthetics more affordable. For those who have lost a limb, part of the recovery is emotional, and fashionable and “cool” looking prosthetics can help rebuild an individuals confidence.

  23. Thank you for this article. I am unsure about the feasibility of 3d printing in mass production. However, I do see how additive manufacturing could help Nike create prototypes quicker and therefore reducing costs with R&D and innovate faster. Also, I believe that there is a huge opportunity in 3D printing specific parts of the shoes in store or at home. For instance: it makes sense to produce the most standard parts of the shoe in traditional factory set-up and the insoles at home. One could get their feet measured and print a customized insole that guarantees comfort.

  24. Nice article! I’m impressed with Nike’s return on investment in additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping; 3D printing clearly accelerates the learning accomplished via iterative prototyping, especially when compared to traditional techniques like casting or milling. Since 3D printing is nearing four decades of maturity, it’s exciting to see the technology accommodate the scale HP machines achieve: the technology is becoming a viable mechanism for mass production. However, I am not clear on the value proposition to consumers: do customers value the customizability (in which case, why have mass additive manufacturing at all?), or has Nike designed shoes that are not manufacturable by standard technologies? I’d be interested to understand more about customers’ true needs.

    Beyond this, how does Nike view adjacent products that leverage additive manufacturing, such as custom insoles by Resa and Wiiv? These companies access customers via disparate channels–Resa with kiosks in Costco stores, Wiiv with an app–but both could be substitutionally competitive with Nike if consumers use these to satisfy their need for custom fit. Alternatively, perhaps these companies raise the overall excitement for 3D printed footwear, and ultimately aid Nike’s sales.

  25. Thanks for the interesting read. I believe one unforeseen consequence of adopting additive manufacturing in shoe production is that inventory management will become more complex but potentially more efficient. Ever been to a store to try on shoes but couldn’t find your size? If we get to a point where shoes can be 3D-printed and assembled in the store, then that scenario will never play out. In addition, retail shops can run leaner on inventory because production is more decentralized, located either in-store or at a production facility that services the region nearby. I for one, am looking forward to on-demand footwear!

  26. Very interesting topic! I definetely see the value in prototyping with 3D printing especially in Nike’s case where they iterate their models based on expert (professional player) feedback so many times. However I have concerns about the mass production applications – maybe because I do not know much about 3D printing. Would it hurt super high quality? I always had the feeling (maybe it is incorrect) that a human workforce can do better quality products than a 3D printer. Also – how many people would end up without a workplace if large manufacturers take this direction? Probably it is inevitable, but interesting aspect.

  27. Wow! How great it is if Nike can print me shoes that right fit my feet shape. This will be a revolution in the shoe industry! The idea of making the best shoe focuses on either performance or appeal. A competitor of Nike, Newbalance started the trend of different feet shape and thus sells 3 different tip size of shoes: Narrow, Normal, and Wild feet. With 3D printing, Nike may be able to produce the similar kind of product with a more variety. This is a true innovation in the shoe industry.

  28. Thanks for a great article, Phil. I am astounded by the magnitude of improvement in the product design process for Nike following the implementation of additive manufacturing. In addition, the company’s strategy of pursuing patent protection and partnering with HP helps to ensure their competitiveness in this particular space. The question raised about extending the 3-D printing technology into other product development areas is intriguing, as additive manufacturing would appear to align with many other products Nike produces (golf clubs, baseball bats, American football gear, etc.). I agree with several of my classmates in questioning the viability of mass production via 3-D printing, but I do think many other opportunities exist with respect to Nike’s product development.

    Lastly, the post raises the question of whether the spread of 3-D printing and its increasing accessibility to the average consumer would create a threat of DIY substitutes for Nike. In my opinion, this is where the value of the Nike brand also serves as a mitigating factor. To the extent that I as a consumer identify with the Nike brand, I may decide to forego any available alternatives that 3-D printing affords.

  29. Similar to many of the comments above, I’m skeptical about mass production through additive manufacturing in a meaningful timeline. I also agree that the key value-add of 3D printing is on customization. 3D printing enables flexible production processes and customizable products. An interesting implication that hasn’t been mentioned is the 3D printing’s impact on the supply chain dynamics. With customization, Nike products are likely to move to a “made-to-order” mode, which is more fit for Direct-to-Consumer model, which may remove the wholesaler and retailer players in the supply chain. Manufacturing plant management will also look different, as the type of inventory would change, and overall inventory levels will likely drop.

  30. This is a fantastic read! Based on the trends in development of 3D-printing, it does seem like it could replace traditional manufacturing for mass-production. To this effect, there are positive and negative implications. This change could help customers get customized designs, patterns, sizes but the cost of designing every new piece would be fairly high (today). This manufacturing process also means that low lost labor would no longer be needed, creating a social issue on unemployment. Also, as 3D-printing becomes more pervasive, many new competitors will emerge that could produce the same shoes as Nike, removing its competitive edge. Innovation will become imperative for any company to survive.

  31. I wonder how scalable 3-d printing actually is. I looked and have yet to see anything data that shows 3-d printers could compete with traditional manufacturing via assembly lines and other methods when huge quantities are involved. As a potential pilot program, it might be a good idea to try using 3-d printers for local or regional releases.

  32. Great article ! I think you touched on a very interesting aspect that additive manufacturing has to offer companies like Nike – customizability! The benefit of 3D printing objects is that the consumer can ultimately decide on any color, material, and shoe model that they wish (given the constraints of the printer being used) and experience no delay in manufacturing time. Traditional methods of creating shoe soles involve injection molding, which can only be done in batches. Therefore, if the machine is currently producing white soles, the factory worker will have to wait for the machine to finish producing the entire batch before turning off the machine, switching out material colors, and injection molding the custom colors. In the past, this method was simply not used given the huge time and cost effects it would have on production. Thus, the use of 3D printing at Nike will revolutionize the way the end user can create and wear their custom Nike products.

  33. The concept of 3D printing at home and just accessing a file has led me to think about a couple of questions, including one similar to movie piracy. If you are able to “pirate” a Nike shoe file and print at home, there is a chance of Nike losing out on all of the revenue from that shoe. Another factor that would be interesting to consider is what they could do to prevent people from printing their one shoes that look very similar to Nike’s, including use of their logo. I think the presence of at-home 3D printing may lead to companies losing control of their brands, in some ways.

  34. For Nike, I believe the long-term benefits of 3D printing will remain for proto-typing, versus mass production. Nike already has a scaled, low cost manufacturing footprint and it would take many years for 3D printing to bring its unit cost down to compete with Nike’s existing footprint and justify the massive capital investment required to 3D print at scale. Additionally, the benefits of 3D printing for manufacturing purposes: detail, flexibility, customization, texture and substrate combinations, are less important for running shoes.

  35. Phil Knight, thanks so much for this fascinating look into Nike’s use of 3D printing techniques! I very much agree with your open questions regarding mass production using 3D printing. Specifically, I can think of 3 considerations that might be impacted: sustainability, factory jobs and the impact on the economy, and patent technology.
    1) I’m interested to see what implication 3D printing will have on jobs in Nike factories and their sustainability. Can sustainable materials be 3D printed just as easily, or will they have to make some sacrifice on their goals to be carbon-neutral in order to adopt this technology more broadly?
    2) Additionally, Nike employs large number of workers at their factories with fair wages. Will 3D printing remove jobs for these workers and will it cause a ripple effect in other factories, potentially crippling the economies of the countries in which these factories are located?
    3) Lastly, 3D printing technology is fascinating but also democratizes making things. If anyone could find the patterns for Nike shoes, presumably, anyone could print Nike shoes and sell them on the black market (more of a threat in countries where Nike does not have patent protection). How do think Nike is thinking about this potential threat to its revenues?

  36. Awesome article – thanks for sharing! I agree that Nike should continue to invest as competitors (namely Adidas) continue to make moves in the space of 3-D printing. I also love your suggestion that Nike should also use 3-D printing to prototype accessories (such as apparel and tennis rackets). As Nike works with top athletes to innovate the next generation of these products, 3-D printing allows the company to prototype, iterate, test and bring products to market more quickly and cheaply.

  37. Thanks for the read and enlightening me on the increased manufacturing and prototyping speeds of additive manufacturing. One thing I remain skeptical about is the breadth of the use case of additive manufacturing. Can this really be applied to other athletic wear? Can a tennis ball really be made through additive manufacturing? I remain skeptical but maybe a new type of ball will be created enhancing the Tennis game in general and the sport will evolve with the change? I am excited to see how this permeates society going forward.

  38. I wonder what sort of impact 3D printing has on the retail industry at large as it is being increasingly used for mass production — in particular, how it impacts prevalence of counterfeit goods on luxury and other high-end brand names. In the long-term, it seems that 3D printing may cannibalize Nike’s strong brand equity, leading to retail sales loss with the ability of fraduluent manufacturers to produce replicas. It appears that once manufacturers are able to create the ‘template’ and acquire the capital, there is a very low barrier to produce identical versions. In the news today, journalists consistently report on how this is becoming harder to detect given the improvements in technology; on the other hand, technology for artificial intelligence is also battling this with anti-counterfeit detection (Sample Article –> https://www.racked.com/2018/7/17/17577266/artificial-intelligence-ai-counterfeit-luxury-goods-handbags-sneakers-goat-entrupy )

  39. Wow – didn’t realize 3D printing could enable prototyping to be 16x faster!

    Focusing on your second question, one negative consequence of widespread 3D printing adoption that could arise is that it will be easier to manufacturer goods that are highly regulated at the moment. Particularly troubling, it could become very easy to produce weapons on your own. For example, if you had access to the design for a gun, you could potentially print one at home or illegally start printing and selling guns.

  40. Interesting read. I wonder what will happen to jobs as a result of mass 3D printing in the shoe industry? would it reduce it significantly? what and how are companies such as Nike are tackling this issue? Another topic that comes to my mind now, is what is the potential of people designing their own shoes and printing them at home? would that be a thing? What if people just take a Nike shoe and copy it at home? What regulations should be in place to protect against such acts?

  41. 3-D printing is a double edge sword. On one hand, as the author describes, it’s can not only speed up the product development process, but can also reduce costs (ie, 10% at Nike). However, I do not believe the quality of 3-D printing today justifies it’s widespread use.

    One might argue that the use of 3-D printing in the production and design of sneakers and running shoes is perfect. After all, a shoe does not need to be absolutely perfect, especially if Nike’s lower costs translate into savings for the consumer. My worry is more related to the use of 3-D printing in creating products that must be absolutely perfect, four instance in healthcare for medical devices.

    I look forward to seeing the impact of 3-D printing on the Broadmoor retail market

  42. I’m really exciting to see the potential of adaptive 3d printing in industries like these to produce custom products, especially if they combine it with innovative imaging technology like Apple’s face ID. This would enable mass produced footwear with all the benefits of personalized custom orthotics!

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