Imagine this scenario: You log into your computer, fire up the Internet, and purchase a file from Nike.com. The file contains data for a specific type of shoe that’s custom fit to your foot with the exact design and color you want. From there, you download the file and feed an at-home 3D-printer with necessary material for said shoe. A few hours later, just like that, you’ve got a new pair of shoes ready to be worn.
This isn’t as far-fetched as it seems — at least according to Nike COO Eric Sprunk.
The 22-year Nike veteran joined us at the GeekWire Summit this past Friday and talked about the possibility of making your own shoes at home.
“Yes, there could be a day where that happens,” said Sprunk with a laugh after being asked the question by GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop.
It was certainly timely, given that Glowforge CEO Dan Shapiro demoed his new 3D laser printer just minutes before on stage.
“Do I envision a future where we might still own the file from an IP perspective — you can’t just have anyone making a Nike product — and have it manufactured in your own home or we do it for you at our store?” Sprunk said. “Yeah, that’s not that far away.”
Sprunk described how Nike’s process of testing and making shoes has evolved, especially in recent years. He described Nike’s Flyknit technology, used in the running shoe you see above, which uses innovative manufacturing and engineering methods to reduce waste during production and speed up the entire process.
“Shoes have been made the same way for decades and we wanted to bust that paradigm,” Sprunk said. “This shoe shows how technology and digitization of our process makes a huge difference. ”
Sprunk pointed specifically to the design innovation of Flyknit, which allows Nike to make shoes on a knit machine early in the shoe design process versus sending drawings and material swatches to a factory in Asia.
“This is a file we send on a computer,” he said of the Flyknit shoes. “It goes to the knit machine, and the operator puts the file into the machine and out comes a shoe.”
Sprunk added that it “won’t be many more years where all footwear is connected,” with each product having its own chip that will help Nike become closer to its customer.
“It’s not just footwear — it’s apparel as well,” he said. “It’s a fairly easy future to imagine.”
Sprunk’s comments start at the 30-minute mark below.