New Balance makes historic footwear announcement ahead of the Boston Marathon

New Balance Zante

Photo: provided.

New Balance announced the launch of the Zante Generate, the first high-performance running shoe with a full-length 3D-printed midsole, which will be available in limited quantities to the public for the first time.

On Friday, April 15 at 9 a.m. EDT, New Balance will release 44 pairs of the Zante Generate, which honours New Balance owner and chairman Jim Davis. He purchased the company 44 years ago and New Balance will release 44 pairs of the 3D-printed shoe at a cost of US$400 per pair.

The shoe will be sold at the New Balance store at 583 Boylston St. in Boston and online through the company’s website.

The store is a two-minute walk from the Boston Marathon finish line. Adidas enters its 28th year as the official footwear and apparel supplier, including the infamous race jacket (click for photos), for the Boston Marathon. While Adidas dominates the Boston Marathon market as the official supplier, New Balance’s headquarters are located in the city.

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In addition to the newly-announced shoe to be unveiled at the Boston Marathon, the footwear and apparel giant also has race-themed shoes for the historic event including the Fresh Foam 1080 Boston and the Fresh Foam Zante Boston. The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.), the organizers of the Boston Marathon, have trademarked “Boston Marathon,” meaning New Balance is limited in how it can advertise its Boston products.

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“New Balance is at the forefront of 3D printing and has been utilizing this exciting and innovative technology to customize product for our athletes for a number of years,” says New Balance president and CEO Robert DeMartini. “Our unique position as both a manufacturer and retailer allows us to bring the world’s first 3D-printed running midsole to market. The Zante Generate demonstrates the strength of New Balance design and innovation and will allow consumers to own a piece of running technology history.”

Through an exclusive collaboration with 3D Systems, New Balance utilizes the company’s newly-developed laser sintering powder, DuraForm® TPU Elastomer to make significant advancements in the performance of printed parts for running shoes.

The Zante Generate upper is taken from the Fresh Foam Zante v2. Fresh Foam, a type of cushioning, is one of New Balance’s most popular features. In terms of how it will benefit runners, 3D printing has the ability to “achieve an optimal balance of flexibility, strength, weight and durability in an intricate honeycomb midsole structure,” as described by New Balance.

Watch the below video to see how the shoe is made:

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For the Zante Generate midsole, New Balance used 3D Systems’ selective laser sintering (SLS) technology, a 3D printing process which converts the new powder material into solid cross-sections, layer by layer, using a laser.

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With excerpts from a New Balance press release