Pleko cleats incorporate 3D printed carbon fiber composite elements »
Built as a single unit by composite experts PBF CRP Technology, the structural part of the Pleko cleats includes an outsole, midsole, pins and 3D printed ribs. The result is a functional prototype, flexible and resistant to deformation, innovative both in terms of customization and the technologies and materials used: Windform SP composites reinforced with carbon fibers.
The revolutionary custom athletic track shoes (aka cleats) were created for Venetian middle distance runner Miro Buroni. To create Pleko, Miro worked with Diadora for historical analysis and design and CRP technology for manufacturing the outsole-midsole and ribs, through professional 3D printing (powder bed fusion process with fiber-reinforced composite polymers) and Windform SP Composite material filled with carbon fibers.
Pleko’s creation began with a three-dimensional scan of athlete’s foot. This step was followed by the biomechanical analysis of the act of running and walking thanks to the 3D scan of the foot. “With this mapping,” commented Buroni, “we were able to model the shoe on the individual’s needs in terms of foot structure and athletic performance. In addition, the scan and biomechanical analysis allowed us to understand the best placement of the “traction system” under the outsole, the “pins”.
When the project was ready to become reality, Buroni decided to use additive manufacturing to build the support structure of the Pleko. Thus, he focused on finding a company capable of providing professional 3D printing service and material with “strong flexural strength characteristics”.
The choice of materials was critical: the results of the investigation of the force transmitted to the track shoes during track running and related requirements confirmed that the success of the project would have depended on the material of construction of the outsole, the midsole and ribs. Only a material with the highest mechanical characteristics would have enabled Buroni to create innovative track shoes.
“After some research,” said Buroni, “it immediately became clear that CRP Technology was the right company to carry out my project and that one of CRP Technology’s best composite materials, Windform SP, was the ideal building material. “
Windform SP is a carbon fiber filled composite material from CRP Technology’s Windform TOP-LINE range of composites for PBF laser sintering technology. It offers excellent deformation resistance and flexibility characteristics.
“Windform SP — Miro added — guarantees excellent resistance even in very thin thicknesses; this characteristic allowed me to create cleats with a perfect wrap of the foot, which facilitates the increase in comfort and the improvement of performance.
The part made of Windform SP
CRP Technology made the outsole, midsole, ribs and pins of the Pleko in one component. The ribs originate from under the outsole, in correspondence with the lines of maximum effort during the track race.
Thanks to the ribs, the structure of Windform SP envelops the athlete’s foot “like a cage”, which envelops the foot and facilitates the improvement of running technique. The ribs are responsible for transporting the kinetic energy released by biomechanical movement during track running and preventing its dispersion.
The sock-like upper is almost completely detached from the structure and responsible for protecting the foot.
“Thanks to the studs under the outsole,” adds Miro, “Windform SP’s ‘cage’ allows the athlete to develop as much strength as possible without wasting energy. I positioned the deeper pins in the top pressure points of the feet against the ground. I have also put smaller studs in other parts of the outsole: these studs are also essential for the stability of the track shoes.
Once the structural part was 3D printed, further tests were carried out on the Pleko. Buroni was very pleased with the results: “The design and manufacturing technologies, combined with the Windform SP and its mechanical characteristics, made the Pleko track shoes very innovative, taking the whole project to the highest level of customization and specialization. I am very satisfied with my 3D printed Pleko and Windform SP ”, he concluded.