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.
China’s Z-Sharp starts up TPU shoe sole 3D printing facility
Z-Sharp installed 15 self-developed selective laser sintering machines in phase one of the project, which started in May. Current production is 36 k pair/year, project manager Zhou Yalei told UTECH-polyurethane.com.
In total, the company invested CNY20m ($3m) in this phase. The TPU it uses is largely sourced 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 8 seconds to prepare a powder layer. It 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.
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