Under Armour is the latest sports apparel maker to experiment with 3D printing technology, unveiling a limited-edition trainer that will go on sale Mar. 18 for $299.99.
The new “UA Architech" has a 3D-printed midsole and upper design. Its first run will be limited to 96 pairs.
Shoe manufacture is particularly conducive to the 3D-printing process because it allows for custom measurements that take into account the idiosyncrasies of a person’s feet and movement.
It’s not just the marketing upside of being able offer a custom shoe, experts say, but also the ability to make and test shoe prototypes in record time, and the ability to drastically shorten the supply chain.
At the moment, 3D printed shoes are not a big category for any of the sportswear retailers. But footwear is, particularly for Under Armour, whose footwear sales rose 57% last year, thanks in large part to its basketball shoe deal with Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player.
Under Armour appears poised to continue its momentum in 2016 after impressing investors with its Q4 results, posted in late January. Q4 revenue rose 31% to $1.17 billion, compared to $895 million a year earlier. Under Armour expects that 2016 will see revenue rise 25% to close to $5 billion, and that it will meet its forecast of operating income growth of 25%.