Additive manufacturing startup Z-Sharp 3D Technology has invested about $3 million into a new printing facility in the city of Wuhu, China. The facility is being used to produce 3D printed TPU midsoles for sports footwear. According to the project manager, Zhou Yalei, the company has installed 15 Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers and the facility is expected to create 100,000 pairs of midsoles per year. Z-Sharp 3D Technology has a headquarters in Wuhu’s Chungu 3D Printing Intelligent Equipment Industrial Park, which is the largest cluster for 3D printing in eastern China. Prior to the facility’s expansion, the company was producing 36,000 3D printed midsoles each year.
The midsoles feature a lattice structure using TPU that makes a lighter, more breathable shoe. They also are said to have higher resilience and absorption properties than conventional midsoles. The company’s SLS 3D printers are reportedly capable of adjusting layer thickness continuously. They have also been designed to take less than 8 seconds to prepare a powered layer and dimensional accuracy. A sportswear manufacturer, Peak, is collaborating with Z-Sharp 3D Technology to advance the application of the 3D printed midsoles. Z-Sharp is also working with the Shanghai Research Institute of Sports Science and Shanghai Sports School for setting up a data laboratory for 3D printing sports gear.