Mercury and Apollo
September 24, 2014 in Case study
Biomimesis and three-dimensional printing, electronics and high-tech material: the special effects of sport design
The boast of technology blossoms in the automotive sector, we know that. Yet even in a truly different compartment, that of sports items, there is a privileged ground to develop the excellence of materials and processes, since it is illuminated by the glaring light of the media during great events such as the Olympic Games or the World Football championship: many are those who dream about emulating the exploits of the stadium heroes, by wearing the same livery.
Bouncing and flying
The feedback from the user is important, especially if he is a successful professional. This transversal trend, a strategy that many brands say they implement, has been practiced during the World Football championship 2014. For instance the soccer ball, which this time is called Brazuca, “living joy” in Brazilian, has been tested by more than 600 professional players, including Zidane. It is manufactured by Adidas consolidating a long collaboration with Bayer Material Science materials: basically it is made of a latex bladder full of air, lined with a textile fabric that acts as substrate for the five subsequent layers based on polyurethane Impranil materials. A first adhesive layer is followed by a layer in foamed PU made by millions of microspheres filled with shape memory gas, so that after the kick the ball preserves its sphericity and with it, its optimum trajectory. Other three layers of compact polyurethane with various thicknesses make up the external layer that ensures elasticity and resistance to abrasions. Unlike conventional soccer balls, made by 12, 16 or 32 panels, Brazuca’s external surface only has 6, since the seams absorb humidity. They are heat assembled with a patented technology that uses a Dispercoll U-based adhesive.
To kick the ball with maximum efficacy, Nike has developed the soccer shoes Mercurial Superfly. Launched in 1998, the latest version borrows many solutions from the Magista, introduced on the market a few months ago. First of all they ‘steal’ the Flyknit technology, an upper without seams that wraps the foot as a second skin: the weave in three micro-texturized layers provides to the person wearing them the barefoot feel and creates an optimum contact with the ball, while the high top collar DynamicFit transforms the boots into an extension of the body. The sole plate in block polyetherimide Pebax by Arkema and nylon has conical studs to ensure 360° traction. The novelties implemented in the Mercurial Superfly shoes include the Brio cables that connect the heel to the rest of the foot, imitating the function of tendons, restoring energy at each flexing of the forefoot. The upper end is lined in a very thin silicone