Modular Soccer Cleats

I have always been passionate about soccer. One aspect that intrigued my engineering mindset was the high tech cleats these top athletes use. I've always wanted to make my own technology advanced soccer cleats and in the Fall of 2016 I had the opportunity to do so. In my class, Design Studio: Objects and Interaction, we were tasked at creating a 3D printed wearable. I decided to make the next generation soccer shoe. Due to the time constraint of the class, I decided to focus on the sole of the shoe, the part that is noticeably different between play styles and field conditions. You can see Formlabs' article on mine and a fellow classmates project here.


Identify need / Use case

My design is meant to serve two purposes: 
1. The top end shoes for the top paid athletes are optimized for their exact feel and play style. My module shoes could serve as a training tool to get the exact specifications from the top athletes for their specific shoe. The shoe upper, the engineered chassis, would be created based off a model of their foot and the exact support needed.. Then the stiffness support and foundation pieces would be created, in multiple variations, to allow the player to test different variations on the spot before a final shoe design is chosen. This way the athlete has the exact shoe that they want, that can then be made specifically for them.

2. The second purpose is to use this shoe as a personalized, all purpose shoe. The foundation would be swapped out for different purposes, fields, and play styles. When worn down, the pieces could be discarded and replaced, allowing the shoe to last for longer than a season or two.


Mechanical Design: 3D printing 

Due to the class constraint of needing to use 3D printing, I did research and tests with different 3D printing methods and abilities. In order to have a bendable part, I first created a swatch, while this worked at being to flow like fabric, I decided to move toward printing in flexible materials for the bottom. Through this process, I learned specifics on our machines, the Form 2 by Formlabs, about the material properties, tolerances, print time, and much more. 


Mechanical Design: Varying stiffness

After learning how the 3D printed materials felt and worked together. I worked on creating my main platform that the modular parts would attach to. This comprised of two designed parts:

First was a hexagonal layout that provided lateral stiffness for the system and holes for interlocking. Due to the force applied while sprinting and cutting, there was heavy lateral forces but little normal forces that would pull the pieces apart. Magnets strategically placed ensured the modular attachments would stay attached through use but enable easy separation by the user.  

Second were 5 different individual pieces to provide stiffness or allow bending. This was achieved by printing in SLA and rubber. This system allows the same support as regular cleats, but less resistance when pushing off the ground. 


Mechanical Design: Individualized Studs

After creating a working base, I focused on the modular attachments. In doing so I analyzed two of the top players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Even though these two players are some of the top goal scorers, their play style and body kit is drastically different. Ronaldo has always been portrayed as a speedy forward that takes slight angle cuts and exerts extreme explosive force on the front of the foot. This lead to a design with more linear, flat studs to allow more grip when moving forward by planting in the ground more and resisting planar rotations when planted. This means it digs into the group easy and doesn't slip, even at extreme human forces. On the other hand, Messi's strength is in his harsh cuts and turns and ability to move the ball in a small location. This lead to a design with smooth oval studs. In addition the taper on the stud was a lot sharper. These qualities allow smooth pivots on the heel or toes, allowing quick turns. Although these are the extreme cases, modular components could be mixed and matched or created within this range. 


Presentation / Future Work

I decided that I wanted to create mock showcase posters for this project. One shows the different qualities of the shoe, while the other is an ad highlighting the main two features. Early in this project I wanted to do the whole shoe, but after analysis of the work I could get done and the depth I wanted to get into on the base I decided not to. But before that decision, I created a few prototypes that are also in the photos.