Climbing becomes the 14th sport discipline to leverage additive manufacturing

As we closely monitor the advancements of additive manufacturing technologies within the sport industry, we are paying special attention to sports that are officially recognized. As a reminder, among the existing recognized sports with national and international federations, AM has already played a key role for 13th sport disciplines.

The customizable climbing shoes from ATHOS make climbing the 14th sport discipline to utilize additive manufacturing. And yes, surprisingly, climbing is now a recognised sport discipline which has even debuted this year at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Aside from my personal impressions of this discipline, I know the use of AM in the fabrication of dedicated climbing shoes is not really surprising, given the capabilities of the technology in the footwear industry.

As far as climbing is concerned, climbing shoes are an essential, whatever type of climber you are. As a matter of fact, many climbers own several pairs of shoes for use in specific disciplines, such as bouldering, multi-pitch and sport climbing.

In this specific area, a team of designers has been working hard since 2020 to create Athos, the first 3D printed climbing shoe. “If you have ever climbed you will know that climbing shoes are really uncomfortable. They need to go really tight to the feet in order to have a good performance. Almost all climbers use 2, 3, or even 4 sizes less for their climbing shoes, which hurts a lot” they shared. By taking into account these considerations, they ambition to “improve the climbing sector by reducing the injuries caused by the current climbing shoes, – thus by designing a unique product for every single user.”

To do so, they first 3D scan the feet of the wearer, customize the prototype, fabricate the footwear – in this specific case, 3D print the body of the shoe before attaching the elastics and straps separately – and thereafter ensure the delivery. What makes these shoes efficient, is the TPU material, a flexible and elastic thermoplastic which is process on a Multi-Jet fusion technology.

climbing shoe – images via Athos

So far, the project has received a positive response from the public and several awards. The Athos team is now currently working with IAM3DHUB from Barcelona in order to validate and industrialize their product. Hopefully, 2022 will see first validations by professional climbers, first sales and a SEED investment.

As a reminder, in the 2021 May/June issue of 3D ADEPT Mag, the “applications” segment (PP 45-50) discusses sport applications made possible using AM technologies. 

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