Wednesday, March 30, 2016

3D Printed Prototypes Help Nike Design Customized Sport Shoes

In 200- and 400-meter sprints, an athlete’s control through the track’s curve can add or subtract crucial milliseconds — the difference between being crowned champion and taking second place. For gold-medal-winning American sprinter Allyson Felix, commanding this variable is just one of the many challenges integral to repeating her 2012 success. To address the challenge ahead of Rio, Felix entered into an unprecedented collaboration with Nike, comprising design and engineering research, with the aim of creating a new spike built specifically for the races’ requirements.
Fig. 1: Nike

The Nike Zoom Superfly Flyknit unites extensive scientific analysis from Nike’s Sports Research Lab (NSRL) with computational design by the company’s designers and pixel-level stitch placement by its Flyknit engineers. Combining this data with perception testing by Felix and additional feedback from her coaches, the collective team precisely adapted the spike’s key elements of strength, fit and flex to Felix’s specifications and biomechanics — exemplified by a long, graceful, powerful stride.

To tailor the fit to the unique contours of Felix’s foot, a custom last was created specifically for Felix’s size 9.5, AA-width feet. The spike’s plate was also developed to align with Felix’s stiffness preference, a balance of flexibility and pop made possible through 3D print prototyping.

3D Printed Prototypes Help Nike Design Customized Sport Shoes
Fig. 2: 3D Printed Prototypes Help Nike Design Customized Sport Shoes

The spike’s custom Flyknit upper perfectly complements the plate’s advances by reducing volume and weight and, for the first time in a sprint spike, extending to three-quarter height, which supports a larger potion of the foot to facilitate fluidity in motion.

“One of the things that I love about the process is that I'm not an expert in this, but I have all this science behind me. This is what [Nike] does and this is what they're passionate about,” says Felix. “I can have confidence that they're going to give me the best equipment.”

Throughout the design process, Felix met with the Nike team over a dozen times — from the first fitting in May 2014 to a recent final wear test in Los Angeles. 30 versions of spike’s plate were produced and the Flyknit upper was tweaked over 70 times before the team felt secure they’d landed on Felix’s pinnacle personalized solution.

This level of prototyping is made possible through advance manufacturing techniques; SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) 3D printing reduces sampling time from weeks to days. The rapidity facilitates immediate feedback, quick iteration and, fundamentally, enables a better final product for the athlete.

“Our role in the Innovation Kitchen is to invent the future of performance innovation for athletes. We do that with a mission to make athletes better. In this work with Allyson, the product that has been created is making her measurably better,” confirms Tony Bignell, VP Footwear Innovation, Nike. “We’re seeing faster times in practice, more efficiency through and exiting the curb as well as unprecedented feedback from Allyson. We cannot wait to see how she performs in the spike throughout the coming months.”

Source: Nike 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Solvay’s Biocompatible PEEK Helps Instratek Fabricate ToeTac™ Implant

Solvay Specialty Polymers, among the leading global suppliers of high-performance thermoplastics, announced that its fatigue-resistant, biocompatible Zeniva® polyetheretherketone (PEEK) resin helped Instratek fabricate the radiolucent implant component of its ToeTac™ Hammertoe Fixation System. A Houston-based developer of medical devices for extremity surgery, Instratek launched the ToeTac™ single-use kit in December 2015 for the operative repair of hammertoe deformities.

“As our team investigated candidate materials for the ToeTac™ implant, we found Solvay’s Zeniva® PEEK was the only polymer that met all of our performance specifications,” said Lance Terrill, director of engineering at Instratek. “Not only was this high-performance material ideal for our clinical application, but Solvay’s comprehensive PEEK material testing package and superior customer service were also important factors in the success of this project.” 

The ToeTac™ implant incorporates two threaded ends for fixation into bone. The first is a conventional bone thread, while the second is interrupted by slots that allow the implant to flex in response to insertion forces. Zeniva® PEEK’s high flexural fatigue resistance met the implant’s stringent design requirements for long-term reliability. The material also offers a modulus closely resembling that of bone to help optimize comfort and performance of the implant.

Zeniva PEEK® offers numerous advantages over implantable metals. It avoids reduction in bone density, for example, by maintaining normal stress on surrounding bone tissue. It also eliminates the risk of allergic reactions to heavy metals, and its radiolucent properties will not interfere with X-ray and computed tomography scanning procedures. 

“Instratek’s ToeTac™ system is another excellent example of the ground-breaking innovation that Zeniva® PEEK is enabling today for implantable devices,” said Dane Waund, global healthcare market manager for Solvay Specialty Polymers. “This advanced material technology is only one of several in Solvay’s Solviva® Biomaterials portfolio, which offers the industry’s broadest selection of high-performance biocompatible polymers. The Solviva® line uniquely positions Solvay and industry-leading collaborators like Instratek to offer cutting-edge medical solutions from instrumentation to implants.”

The Solviva® family of biomaterials includes four distinct polymer chemistries to offer a broad and growing range of options for implantable devices used in orthopedics, cardiovascular, spine and other applications. In addition to Zeniva® PEEK, the portfolio includes Proniva® self-reinforced polyphenylene, Veriva® polyphenylsulfone and Eviva® polysulfone. All Solviva® Biomaterials can be sterilized using conventional methods, such as gamma radiation, ethylene oxide and steam. They demonstrate no evidence of cytotoxicity, sensitization, intracutaneous reactivity or acute systemic toxicity, based on biocompatibility testing as defined by ISO 10993:1. These sterilizable products are available in grades for injection molding or extrusion, as well as stock shapes for machined components.

Source: Solvay Specialty Polymers