Wuhu, Anhui – China’s Z-Sharp 3D Technology has started the first phase of a 3D printing facility. It is using thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to produce flexible midsoles.
Z-Sharp installed 15 self-developed selective laser sintering machines in phase 1 of the project, which started in May. Current production is 36,000 pair/year, project manager Zhou Yalei told UTECH-polyurethane.
In total, the company invested CNY20 million (€2.6 million) in this phase.
The company sources a large part of the TPU materials from overseas, Zhou said.
Z-Sharp expects the project’s total capacity to reach 100,000 pair/year when later phases are on stream.
Lattice midsoles printed with TPU are lighter, more breathable and have higher resilience and better damping than conventional midsoles, the company claimed.
Z-Sharp printers can adjust layer thickness continuously from 80μm to 300μm. It takes less than eight seconds to prepare a powder layer.
The layer has a dimensional accuracy of ±0.2mm when the length is less than 200mm, and ±0.1% accuracy when the length is over 200mm.
Z-Sharp was founded two years ago in Wuhu city’s Chungu 3D Printing Intelligent Equipment Industrial Park.
This is the largest industrial cluster for 3D printing in eastern China.
Peak, a Chinese sportswear maker, is helping to devise applications.
Additionally, it is working with the Shanghai Research Institute of Sports Science and the Shanghai Sports School to set up a data laboratory for sports gear 3D printing.
The company also plans to work with marathon events to collect the athletes’ data and produce customised footwear.