Although the name Elastic Interface may not immediately ring a bell, they are a major suppliers of chamois used in cycling knicks for many of the premium brands you do know and have probably already worn. The brand have just have opened the next chapter with a preview of their 3D printed Chamois named EIT N3X Technology. At Eurobike 2022 which takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, the brand showed the prototype for the first time and this was also the first news for many of the brands they supply.
What is the value of a 3D printed chamois? It is no secret that 3D printing is already being used for all manner of materials and construction. In the bike world the 3D printed ‘Adaptive’ saddle from fizik has been an eye catcher. For chamois, the benefit from 3D printing is a finer level of control over the attributes of the chamois and even a possibility of customising chamois to each rider (that could take a while).
In this case, Elastic interface use TPU, thermoplastic polyurethane as the material of choice. Sustainability a big trend running through Elastic Interface so the TPU is biologically based and recyclable, any waste material can be reused in production. (The brand also stressed to me that they pushing their sustainability approach across the entire design and production).
As we have seen in other 3D printed products, there is significantly more freedom in the form and design. This means for the chamois density can be modified for harder / softer chamois as well as creating different densities and shapes across the chamois (e.g. stiffer at the back, softer at the front). Even attributes such as sideways movement, for example, could be defined so there is a lot of scope to develop this. The porous form-factor aids breathability and moisture wicking plus the height of the chamois can also be reduced over a comparable foam chamois.
In plain text, bib knicks are destined to become better and more comfortable riders as control of the details improves. The fast and one-off production possibilities of 3D printing and ease of integrating the 3D printed chamois inserts into existing pads means we could see some brands offer knicks with 3D printed chamois fairly quickly.
Broader adoption will naturally take more time and like many new ideas, a 3D printed chamois will likely cost more. I anticipate that Elastic Interface will create their own series as well as create and supply custom chamois solutions to match the specifications of the cylewear brands.