Approved Next-Gen Carbon-Fiber Plate Running Shoes for Competition, World Athletics Meets Additive Molding
Advanced Composites for Athletic Footwear... "We're not kidding about composites made to outperform."
Running shoes with carbon-fiber plates have been an ongoing topic of controversy in recent years (“The Super Shoe Controversy and World Athletics’ Ruling,” Outside Magazine, August 2020). These shoe plates intend to provide a spring-like effect, helping athletes run better and improve their overall performance. However, some have raised concerns that the boost in energy return from carbon fiber plates may give athletes an unfair advantage, leading to calls for stricter regulations on their use (“Carbon-Plated Running Shoes: Fad or Science-Based Style,” Engineering.com, December 2020).
In 2022, ARRIS hit a significant milestone when World Athletics approved a development shoe for running that included cutting-edge carbon fiber plates manufactured by ARRIS. Pro athletes then wore the approved running shoes at major marathons, and shortly after, the ARRIS carbon plate innovation itself earned recognition from the Business Intelligence Group (BIG Innovation Award, January 2023).
“Approval by World Athletics is big for ARRIS and brands leveraging our new composite materials and manufacturing technology to level up next-gen athletic footwear,” said Michelle Callan, Director of Footwear Programs at ARRIS. “We have a unique ability to reimagine what’s possible with composites for leading footwear product teams, so much so that not all development shoes with ARRIS technology have been approved by World Athletics. In some cases, the advantage was too great—we’re not kidding about composites made to outperform.”
The World Athletics organization, the governing body for all things running, has taken multiple steps to address the controversy over carbon fiber plates in running shoes. The book of rules by World Athletics addresses the use of various shoe types in competitions, including “Development Shoes.” If approved, development shoes may be worn by an athlete for a maximum period of 12 months starting from the date when an athlete proposes to wear the development shoe for the first time in an applicable competition (Book C – C2.1A, Effective 1/2022). Rules such as that, and others outlined in the book, are meant to ensure fairness and prevent unfair advantages while enabling brands to innovate responsibly (World Athletics Press Release, December 2021).
The advanced continuous carbon fiber plate made using ARRIS’ Additive Molding technology enables new design latitudes for designers. Product teams can create a lighter-weight, more responsive design with targeted stiffness in critical areas versus a one-size-fits-all approach in the market now. ARRIS enables the option of using less material while also improving performance, creating areas of tunable stiffness/strength, and ultimately, overall better results for athletes (even to the point of unfair advantage).
However, leveling up performance is only one aspect of why these technological advancements matter to the running community. From significant reductions in carbon emissions to recyclable and bio-based materials options, the Additive Molding technology by ARRIS also requires less energy, generates significantly less waste, and utilizes recyclable thermoplastics. Many ARRIS team members are runners, too—we know personally and professionally that this innovation enables a meaningful milestone in athletic footwear… and this is just the beginning.
Check out a Q&A with Michelle Callan, a recent survey on running, and a popular FAQ on ARRIS materials with Bert Mannhalter and Allie Light from the R&D team.
- Q&A: Additive Molding for Performance Footwear [ READ ]
- San Francisco Ranks #1, America’s Best Cities for Runners [ READ ]
- FAQ: Continuous Fiber Thermoplastic Composites [ READ ]
Links Cited From World Athletics, Outside Magazine, Engineering.com, Business Intelligence Group