Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco: Under Armour Breaking the mold Exhibit


The Autodesk Gallery at One Market in San Francisco celebrates design — the process of taking a great idea and turning it into a reality. With about 60 different exhibits regularly on display that showcase the innovative work of Autodesk customers, the gallery illustrates the role technology plays in great design and engineering. Autodesk Gallery Ambassadors conduct gallery tours as a sideline to their day jobs. The tours provide employees with opportunities to practice public speaking in front of small groups.

We are on the brink of the biggest change in how we make things since the industrial revolution, and this isn't just about new technology It's about changes in culture, politics, and attitudes. As a leading 3D technology provider for the architecture, engineering, and construction; product design and manufacturing; and media and entertainment industries, Autodesk is paying attention to three major catalysts for disruption of the industries that we serve:

  1. Means of Production

    The process of how we make physical things is evolving. Autodesk customers simply don't design, manufacture, or build things the same way as they used to.

  2. The Nature of Consumer Demand

    The customers of Autodesk customers care more about how and where things are made. Interest in locally made, produced, and sold items is growing everywhere.

  3. Products themselves

    The term "Product" is a proxy for all the things Autodesk customers make (whether it's a building, movie, highway, or car). Things are now deeply connected — to each other and to other interconnected digital systems. The bottom line is that things don't function in isolation anymore. They are smart. They talk to each other, affect each other, even change over time.

The Breaking the mold exhibit is an exhibit that clearly demonstrates how the means of production are changing:



It all started with a smelly shirt. Twenty years ago, Under Armour was born because founder and former college football player, Kevin Plank, hated having to constantly change his sweat-soaked cotton T-shirts. His moisture-wicking solution was revolutionary. Now, Under Armour is about to do it again but this time with footwear. Utilizing emerging technology in both design software and manufacturing, the company is introducing the world's first performance training shoe with a 3D-printed midsole — the Architech.

Inspired by the geometric shapes and structures in both nature and architecture, Under Armour's Innovation team used generative design software to develop the complex shape of the shoe's midsole. Generative design technology itself mimics nature, employing algorithms to create complex forms that imitate how the natural world accepts or rejects designs, forms that are impossible to manufacture using conventional methods. What emerges is a shoe that performs admirably in activities that require lateral stability as well as those where flexibility, cushioning, and light weight are critical, improving performance across athletic disciplines without the need to change shoes during varied training regimens.


Under Armour was an early adopter of generative design software. Rather than create the form, designers instead set goals and constraints for the finished design — such as weight reduction or load requirements — and the software provides multiple options, all of which meet those goals. Creating lattice structures that use a precise amount of material, exactly where needed, the software delivers optimized forms — often beyond the scope of what humans alone could generate — that far exceed the performance of a traditional solid component. The forms created by generative design software, such as those used in the Architech, are far too complex to be produced using traditional manufacturing methods, and can only be created with 3D printers.


These trainers were designed to help athletes stay stable during strength training workouts. 3D printing allows for customization of designs to fit each particular athlete's need; However, these particular shoes were not customized. They were more of an experimental design prototyping project that took over 2 years of research to create. There were only 96 identical pairs created at the Under Armour Innovation Lab in Baltimore. With this particular project, rather than produce millions of new 3D printed shoes, Under Armour was looking to gauge how customers will react to them. They still see this type of manufacturing as something more like a few years in the future. These shoes sold for $299 when released, so are not less expensive than traditionally manufactured shoes. They sold all 96 pairs in under 20 minutes. Other major shoe companies also created 3D printed shoes (i.e., Nike, Adidas); however, only Under Armour's shoes were sold to the public.

After 33 years of exclusively being a Nike customer, my latest pair of athletic shoes are Under Armour.

So in addition to the means of productiin, customer demand is also changing.

Thanks to the Autodesk Gallery team for the descriptive text for this blog post.

The Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco is open to the public on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a guided tour on Wednesdays at 12:30 pm and a self-guided audio tour available anytime. Admission is free. Visit us.

The sole train is alive in the lab.