After purchasing a Connex3 3D printer for
in-house prototyping, Krotzer admits that daytime
running breaks aren’t the only thing keeping
employees happy at the footwear company. “We
aim to build the best performance product on the
market and now we have a new tool to help us
get there. Our 3D printer has revolutionized our
entire design validation process,” said Krotzer. In
addition to saving time during the design iteration
process, the company also saves $500 to $800
per shoe design.
The large print bed on the Connex3 enables
Brooks to print four to five outsole, midsole
combination prototypes at a time. “We’ve seen
the number of project delays drastically reduced
now, thanks to our eight-hour turnaround time.
Even with redesign, we can get files, prototypes
and review them all within a 10-hour span.
Design validation literally takes half the time with
our 3D printer,” Krotzer says.
For now, Krotzer says their 3D printer saves Brooks “untold time and headaches” during the design validation process. “There’s such freedom with having it, the ability to set up a redesign to print overnight and it’s ready in the morning. And as for color,” Krotzer said, “we’ve only scratched the surface. Our Connex3 has the capacity to print dozens of colors and while we only need black, white and gray right now for our outsoles and midsoles, that could change someday.” Krotzer is hopeful fully-functional prototypes could be a part of Brooks’ 3D printing future. The avid runner and footwear developer doesn’t hesitate to look forward to a time “when that’s where we will have to go to stay relevant. Pushing innovation. We look to Stratasys for that and I can’t wait for a material that could mimic the materials we need for the entire shoe. That’d be awesome. Just think, we could print fully functioning prototypes, then head out to the trails and take them for a spin. We’re already a pretty happy place, but just imagine that!” Krotzer said.