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New Balance Invests in Made in USA 3-D Printing Platform

New Balance, the longstanding bastion of American-made footwear, has developed a new 3-D printing platform, TripleCell, for use in its Lawrence, Mass. factory.

The brand decided to launch its TripleCell platform with the re-release of a classic design, New Balance’s 990 Sport, infused with features only made possible by 3-D printing. For example, the updated silhouette is 10 percent lighter than the traditionally-manufactured version with the same amount of cushion⁠—and all while keeping that Made in the USA designation.

New Balance started work on the platform in 2017 with Formlabs, another Massachusetts-based company that develops digital fabrication solutions, and the two groups have an exclusive partnership to create the material and hardware innovation needed to develop and scale New Balance’s own 3-D printing manufacturing process.

“TripleCell will deliver the industry’s pinnacle expression of data to design with seamless transitions between variable properties underfoot,” Katherine Petrecca, the GM of New Balance’s Innovation Design Studio, said in a statement. “This new, cutting edge, digitally manufactured technology is now scaling exclusively within New Balance factories in the U.S. further establishing us as a leader in 3-D printing and domestic manufacturing. Formlabs has been an integral partner to bring this to life. We’re really going to be able to disrupt the industry not only in performance, but also in athlete customization and speed to market.“

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It was this relationship, New Balance said, that resulted in the creation of a new proprietary photopolymer resin, known as Rebound Resin. Made especially for 3-D printed footwear, the resin is composed of “springy, resilient lattice structures” that New Balance and Formlabs designed to have the same long-lasting durability seen in the injection-molded thermoplastic common to traditionally manufactured athletic footwear.

new balance's 990 sport and the lattice structure created by 3-d printing
New Balance said that the TripleCell technology found in the heel of its new, 3-D printed 990 Sport provides the same level of comfort with 10 percent less weight. New Balance

“3-D printing is changing how companies approach manufacturing, with this announcement New Balance is pioneering localized manufacturing,” Dávid Lakatos, chief product officer of Formlabs explained. “By eliminating the dependence on molds and direct printing for both prototyping and production, their team shifts from months to hours in the development and production cycles. We’re moving towards a world where design cycles are closing in on the whim of the consumer and it’s exciting to be on the frontlines of this with New Balance.”

The 3-D printed 990 Sport is now available through New Balance’s e-commerce channels and through select retailers at an expected retail value of $185. On Sept. 15, New Balance will release another silhouette infused with TripleCell technology, the FuelCell Echo, for an expected price of $175.

3-D printing is catching on among shoe brands. At the recent PI Apparel, Erik Olson, Crocs’ VP of product innovation and development, said the technology is the “past, present and future” for the brand.