Nike unveiled new initiatives to revolutionize its manufacturing process thanks to 3D printing

The Sportswear industry might be the one nailing it in the Fashion Tech revolution. Following Adidas’ Futurecraft initiative announcement, Nike unveiled some pretty exciting news during its Investor Day last Wednesday: a promising 3D digital design system partnership with DreamWorks Animation, a stunning new 125,000-square-foot Advanced Product Creation Center at its World Headquarters and above all a manufacturing & supply chain revolution through 3D printing thanks to a strategic partnership with Flex.

With its e-commerce business surpassing $1 billion today, Nike is one of the brands who understood quite early how the digital revolution would affect its business. But today, digital is not only disrupting the way brands communicate and sell, it is slowly but surely going IRL, connecting objects and presaging innovations that are about to revolutionize the fashion industry from end to end.

Partnering with DreamWorks Animation to build a 3D digital design system

By partnering with DreamWorks Animation and its newly formed technology company, NOVA, Nike aims to accelerate the process of creating and bringing new products to market. How? By building a 3D digital design system that will transform its product creation process. The partnership will deliver cutting-edge capabilities, such as nearly instantaneous digital print applications, photo-real 3D visualizations and ultra-rapid prototyping.

Nike said its 3D digital design system will be capable of “nearly instantaneous digital print applications, photo-real 3D visualizations and ultra-rapid prototyping.”

Partnering with Flex to Disrupt its manufacturing process through 3D printing

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The manufacturing process in apparel and footwear is a highly labor-intensive one, and considered “pretty archaic” by some analysts, compared with other more automated industries. With one of its main problem being all the leftovers material that don’t end up in the final product, adding unneeded wastes to our planet and making the brand lose money.

This is where the 3D printing (already used by the brand) and automation technology brought up by the partnership with Flex make all their sense, as the company said on stage that reducing waste alone could produce $1 billion in cost savings.

The partnership is about both the companies working hand-in-hand to bring footwear innovation to facilitate delivery of products to consumers, but not only. Tailor-made products should reach customers faster with the modernization of manufacturing process.

Flex’s proven expertise in design, engineering and manufacturing in industries like automotive, medical and consumer electronics make them a perfect partner to help us revolutionize footwear manufacturing,” said Eric Sprunk, Chief Operating Officer, NIKE, Inc. “Together, the future of personalized, rapidly-delivered product that is made more efficiently and with less waste is well underway.”

Accelerating the conception-to-creation process with new Advanced Product Creation Center

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The new Advanced Product Creation Center, taking the company’s commitment to automation and 3D printing a step further, will connect innovation and design teams to accelerate the conception-to-creation process.

“When you combine the new Advanced Product Creation Center at our world headquarters in Oregon, the product customization project in Memphis, and the innovation work at Flex’s Lab in California, we have a powerful opportunity to deliver new performance innovation to consumers through advanced, world-class manufacturing,” said Sprunk.

Nike shares finished up 2.3% in the stock market following the announcement. Investors seem to slowly believing in Fashion Tech :-) guys, let me happily tell you that this is only the beginning!


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Post written by Noémie Balmat, Founding editor-in-chief

Interested in the future of fashion, the digital revolutions and advertising, Noémie has a valuable three-year experience in international advertising agencies and works with young innovative designers as a fashion tech freelance consultant. Currently working for Publicis Conseil in Paris, she launched Clausette Magazine in November 2014 to gather all cool projects linking fashion & innovation in one place. Sensitive to the technological and scientific evolutions, she takes part in several Fashion Tech weeks and events as a speaker (Paris, Tokyo, Roubaix…).

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