The Vapor Laser Talon is Nike's task-specific 40 yard dash shoe, and any football fan knows a fast 40 time is the key to NFL success on the field – and amping up a player's stock on draft day.
It's a part of the NFL Nike Silver Speed Collection and it was designed for Super Bowl XLVIII. Featuring 3D-printed sole plates – specifically the "V-Plate" shape from the Nike Vapor Laser Talon – and includes an additional carbon fiber plate to enhance torsional stiffness and cut down on overall weight.
Working with Nike's design team, Olympic superstar and now consultant, Michael Johnson, created the shoes to help athletes squeeze every last ounce of performance from their bodies. Johnson and Nike began their collaboration by making the gold shoes Johnson used to make history during the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Johnson also helped form the Nike Sensor Sport Performance Lab.
And in case you're wondering if the 3D printed plates on the Nike Vapor Laser Talon cleats are just hype, think again. Seven of the top ten fastest 40 times at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine were run on them. Nike says that it would have taken them three years to roll out the shoes using traditional prototyping methods, but 3D printing technology cut the time to create a functional platform for their new shoe to a fraction of that time.
Using Selective Laser Sintering, the Nike engineers were also able to make design changes within a matter of hours as requirements changed.
"SLS technology has revolutionized the way we design cleat plates," said Shane Kohatsu, Director of Nike Footwear Innovation. "It gives Nike the ability to create solutions that weren't possible within the constraints of traditional manufacturing processes."