It's 30 percent lighter than before, for one, thanks to a soleplate that Nike overhauled using a custom tool called Finite Element Analysis. The FEA system tests traction patterns to build an optimal base for the foot, allowing designers to configure key elements like the placement of studs. What made this scientific testing easier to turn into tangible form was 3D printing technology, says Nathan VanHook, senior design director of Nike Football. A prototyping process that in the past would have taken weeks or even months can now be done in a matter of hours.
By relying on 3D-printed plate models for FEA traction, VanHook says his team was able to receive instant feedback from different variation studs. These are sent through a robotic simulator to see which work best for rotation, acceleration and deceleration, until designers and engineers eventually land on the sweet spot. This data help create a shoe that's supposed to perform well on any given day, regardless of the condition of the field -- immaculate, rough, wet, dry or somewhere in between.
The Magista 2's insole next to a few 3D-printed sample plates.
VanHook, who designed one of the most coveted Air Yeezys during Kanye West's Nike partnership, says what he appreciates the most about 3D printing is the freedom it provides to experiment. "You see things right away," he explains. "We can take the lever and say, 'Let's see what the most extreme [thing to do] is,' and are able to prototype and iterate superfast." Put simply, VanHook says, 3D printing has sped up Nike's innovation process tenfold. He says there's no reason to wait to cut metal tooling or mold something anymore, noting that the key is to go from the sketch to the actual making as quickly as possible.
As far as design goes, the Magista 2 is arguably Nike's most eye-popping soccer shoe to date. And that's coming from a brand known for its flashy designs on the pitch, including Cristiano Ronaldo's CR7 Mercurials, as well as the HyperVenom and Tiempo lines. Most of them feature colorful, highlighter-like tones that are hard to miss even for fans without 20/20 vision. The Magista 2's "heat-map" design is intended to mimic the hot spots where most players are bound to interact with the ball. In this case, red reveals areas of the foot with high sensitivity to touch.
For example, if you've ever played soccer you know how effective it is to kick the ball with the inside of your foot. It provides both power and accuracy. Sure, you don't need a shoe to remind you of that, but it doesn't hurt to have that mapped on your feet for aesthetic purposes. The interesting part about this design is that it was originally used on every prototype of the Magista 2 for data-collection, but Nike ultimately decided to turn it into an actual product. "It was pretty amazing when we first started seeing all the data come in and we painted it up," says VanHook. "It's the simplest idea, but it's really complex how the data came through."