Puma Teams With MIT on New Cushioning Technology

Elva Mankin

Puma has gone high-tech for its latest sneaker drop.

As a result of a sponsored research project in partnership with MIT Design Lab, the sports brand has created Xetic, a cushioning technology that combines mechanical cushioning and foam. The product will make its debut in a new street-inspired sneaker called Calibrate Runner later this month.

While at first glance, Xetic may look like 3-D printed plastic, it is actually made of foam. It takes its name from “auxetic materials,” structures that behave in a certain way when they are subjected to mechanical stresses such as compression.

“Puma’s innovation department teamed up with MIT Design Lab because we needed their high-expert engineering capabilities,” said Romain Girard, senior head of innovation at Puma. “MIT has computer simulation possibilities, which enabled us to see the behavior of the material and quickly find the optimal structure for calculated cushioning.”

The two companies worked with the running community to analyze individual issues such as pressure points, foot size and runner weight, and used that data to develop a specifically shaped structure that allows for progressive cushioning. The result is a structure shaped like a horizontal number eight that Puma expects to appeal to the streetwear community.

The shoe will be available beginning on Aug. 28 at Puma stores and online, as well as at Foot Locker and other retailers around the world. It will retail for $140. There will be a white/silver option as well as a neon green/black version. A Nineties-inspired, colorblocked option will also be available as will a special collaboration with Porsche Design, which will be more expensive and feature sustainable materials.

At this point, there are no plans to offer an apparel collection under the Calibrate Runner name, the brand said during a live press conference Tuesday morning from its headquarters in Germany.

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