New Balance is one of the world’s largest shoe manufacturers. Back in 2013, the company used 3D printing for the first time to create custom spike plates for track athlete Jack Bolas. After this New Balance continued to supply customized 3D printed spines and cleats to sponsored athletes. In 2015 the company announced they were teaming up with 3D systems to create a limited edition high performance running shoe with a 3D printed midsole. This midsole was made using 3D Systems’ DuraForm Flex TPU elastometric powder. There were 44 pairs of New Balance Zante Generate released last year, which was the first commercially available 3D printed running sneaker. Each shoe takes several hours to complete, using engineered mesh and a soft, yet strong midsole that is 3D printed using selective laser sintering (SLS).
The midsole features an internal honeycomb structure for maximum comfort and support. Once it is 3D printed, it is removed from the powder bed for cleaning and post-processing. During the SLS process, a laser is used to convert the powder into solid cross-sections. New Balance started out with small batch work but moved to large-scale commercialization. The company asked Russell Finex, mesh separation technology expert, to help find more efficient ways to increase powder throughput and improve flowability for prototypes. The 3D printing powers were sieved with ultrasonic screening technology. The high-capacity sieve in an industrial screening, and is about half the height of a traditional sieve. Because it can be easily stripped down with tools, operators can access the mesh screens easily. New Balance can ensure purity, and increase the throughput of the 3D printing powder.
Original Article: https://3dprint.com/199087/new-balance-powder-case-study/