Always at the forefront of innovation, Nike enlisted London-based architect and digital designer Daniel Widrig, one of the collaborators behind the first 3D printed dress, to create a sculpture that captures the “essence of the body in motion” to promote the world launch of their Nike Free and Nike Flyknit special edition running shoes. Materialise is proud to have had the privilege and challenge of helping Nike and Daniel bring the delicate essence of human movement to life.


An Impossible Design

Inspired by images of a figure accelerating and slowing through 3D space, Daniel transformed a series of digital photos into a hanging wall sculpture over 4 meters in length. However, the complex and intricate nature of the piece rendered it impossible to produce using traditional technologies. Having previously collaborated together on other projects, Daniel turned to Materialise to help him realize his vision.


Creating Balance Through Technology

Together they modified the design to make the piece buildable, taking into account the varying weight load and shapes across the length of the sculpture. Owing to its large size, the piece needed to be built in three separate parts on the Mammoth Stereolithography Machine. Using the advanced algorithms and processing power of Materialise’s software, sophisticated yet invisible cuts and snap connections could be designed along the shape of the piece so the final outcome would appear as if it had been printed whole. The software also allowed the design of strategically located hollow areas where supports could be inserted for mounting.


Support for the Finest of Art

After completion of the building plan, Materialise’s automatic support-generating software Materialise e-Stage was used to ensure perfect production of Daniel’s piece. The complex, spiral design created many delicate overhangs that could deform or break easily during manufacturing. Thanks to Materialise e-Stage, supports could be placed in a smart way, building them only where necessary. This enhancement allows for easy removal of supports, which helps protect delicate parts, as well as reduce resin use and improve post-production finishing time. As a result, the piece was perfectly built and the final product travelled to Milan, Tokyo, New York and London as a key part of Nike’s worldwide launch exhibition.

Daniel’s final sculpture, “The Art + Science of Flex” will be permanently exhibited at Nike Headquarters in Portland, Oregon from October 2013.