The sports industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by consumer demand, competitive pressures, performance enhancement, injury prevention, and tactical insights and the growing importance of technologies such as sensor technology, machine learning & artificial intelligence (AI), energy harvesting, material science, augmented reality, 3D printing and biomechanics analysis. In the last three years alone, there have been over 76,000 patents filed and granted in the sports industry, according to GlobalData’s report on 3D printing in sports: footwear 3D printing. Buy the report here.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 49,000 patents to analyze innovation intensity for the sports industry, there are 10+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.
Footwear 3D printing is a key innovation area in 3D printing
Footwear 3D printing is an advanced manufacturing process that utilizes additive manufacturing technology to create customized and highly precise shoe components or entire footwear products. The process involves depositing material layer by layer to build up three-dimensional shoe structures, which can include midsoles, outsoles, insoles, uppers, and other shoe components. Footwear 3D printing allows for the production of personalized and tailored shoes with intricate designs, optimized comfort, and enhanced performance characteristics. It offers benefits such as rapid prototyping, reduced material waste, and the ability to experiment with innovative materials and geometries, making it a disruptive technology in the footwear industry.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 80+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of footwear 3D printing.
Key players in footwear 3D printing – a disruptive innovation in the sports industry
‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.
‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.
Patent volumes related to footwear 3D printing
Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics
Footwear 3D printing is transforming the sports industry by offering athletes unprecedented levels of customization, performance enhancement, and rapid innovation. Its future holds the promise of highly personalized, sustainable, high-performance sports shoes that contribute to athlete’s success, while minimizing the risk of injuries. Some examples of 3D printing technologies and initiatives include NIKE Flyprint, adidas Futurecraft, Under Armour ArchiTech, New Balance Fresh Foam, ECCO Quant-U (ECCO), and ASICS GEL-Quantum Infinity.
In terms of application diversity, PPG Industries leads the pack, while Kyoraku and Alpha MOS stood in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, NIKE held the top position, followed by Coats Group and Authentic Brands Group.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports.