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Pleko spike shoes integrate 3D printed carbon fiber composite elements

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Built as a single unit by composite PBF experts CRP Technology, the structural part of the Pleko spike shoes features a 3D printed outsole, midsole, pins and ribbing. The result is a functional prototype, flexible and resistant to deformation, which is innovative both in terms of customization and for the technologies and material used: carbon fiber-reinforced Windform SP composites.

The customized and revolutionary athletics track shoes (aka spike shoes) were created for Venetian middle-distance runner Miro Buroni. To create Pleko, Miro worked with Diadora for historical analysis and design and CRP Technology for the manufacture of the outsole-midsole and ribbing, through professional 3D printing (Powder Bed Fusion process with composite fiber-reinforced polymers) and Windform SP Carbon fiber filled composite material.

Pleko spike shoes integrate 3D printed carbon fiber composite Windform elements The creation of Pleko started with a three-dimensional scan of the athlete’s foot. This step was followed by the biomechanical analysis of the act of running and footing through the 3D foot scan. “With this mapping—Buroni commented—we were able to model the shoe on the individual’s needs in terms of foot structure and athletic performance. Moreover, scanning and biomechanical analysis allowed us to understand the best placement of the ‘traction system’ under the outsole, the ‘pins'”.

When the project was ready to became reality, Buroni decided to use additive manufacturing to build the supporting structure of the Pleko. Thus, he focused on finding a company able to provide professional 3D printing service and a material with “strong characteristics of resistance to bending”.

The material selection was critical: the results of the investigation on the force transmitted to the track shoes during the track race and the connected requirements confirmed that the success of the project would have depended on the manufacturing material for the outsole, midsole and ribbing. Only a material with the highest mechanical characteristics would have allowed Buroni to create innovative track shoes.

“After research—Buroni stated—it immediately became clear that CRP Technology was the perfect company to realize my project, and that one of CRP Technology’s top composite materials, Windform SP, was the ideal construction material.”

Pleko spike shoes integrate 3D printed carbon fiber composite Windform elements Windform SP is a carbon-fiber-filled composite material from CRP Technology’s Windform TOP-LINE range of composites for PBF Laser Sintering technology. It offers excellent characteristics of resistance to deformation and flexibility.

“Windform SP—Miro added—guarantees excellent resistance even in very thin thicknesses; this feature allowed me to create spike shoes with a perfect foot envelopment, that facilitates an increase of the comfort and the enhancement of the performance.”

The part manufactured in Windform SP

CRP Technology manufactured the Pleko’s outsole, midsole, ribs and pins as a single component. Ribs are originated from under the outsole, in correspondence with the lines of maximum effort during the track race.

Thanks to the ribs, the structure in Windform SP embraces the athlete’s foot “like a cage”, which envelops the foot and facilitates improvements in the running technique. The ribs are responsible for carrying the kinetic energy releases from the biomechanical movement during the track race, and preventing its dispersion.

The sock-like upper is almost completely detached from the structure and responsible for protecting the foot.

Pleko spike shoes integrate 3D printed carbon fiber composite Windform elements “Thanks to the pins under the outsole—Miro added—the ‘cage’ in Windform SP allows the athlete to develop as much strength as possible, without losing energy. I positioned the deepest pins in the points of superior pressure of the feet against the ground. I also put smaller studs in other parts of the outsole: these studs are on an equal basis essential for the stability of the track shoes.”

Once the structural part was 3D printed, other tests were carried out on the Pleko. Buroni was very satisfied with the results: “The design and manufacturing technologies, combined with the Windform SP and its mechanical characteristics, made the Pleko track shoes highly innovative, taking the entire, whole project to the highest level of customization and specialization. I am very satisfied with my 3D printed Pleko and Windform SP,” he concluded.

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