Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Bespoke Soccer Boots
Laser sintering may sound as if it belongs in Star Wars but the process could soon be used to make soccer boots that fit players' feet perfectly. Tailored shoes are built using a form of rapid 3D printing called selective laser sintering, in which a laser fuses together particles of a nylon-based material to build the shoe layer by layer. Customised boots start by scanning the foot with a laser to obtain a digital model. Using a pedar insole the subject carries out a series of exercises to determine the size and distribution of forces acting around the feet. That information is combined with other detailed analysis including leg structure and gait information to produce a blueprint template for the sole and stud arrangement. The shoes are then completed around the data. The hope is the player’s boot will not just provide a more comfortable boot but also give the vulnerable appendage greater protection according to the developers. Anything which reduces the potential for injury would be welcomed by the industry. Matching thickness, density and strength of the material for each sub-component gives optimal support without increasing the weight of the boot. The hope is the same software can be used to develop other protective clothing as well as other applications in aeronautics. Meantime London based company Prior2Lever (P2l) is working on prototypes soccer boots and if the project is a success plans are to proceed to the high street, where shops could print a pair of bespoke shoes in just a few hours.