First thing’s first: We need to talk about the name. Nike’s debut 3-D football cleat (a first for the industry) is called the Vapor Laser Talon. Sure, it sounds like three superheroes (with limited imaginations) joined forces to fight evil, but what’s in a name? Weighing a mere 5.6 ounces, the boots were designed specifically for the 40-yard dash, to enhance a player’s “zero step.” (For the uninitiated, that increases the speed of off-the-line launch, which feeds into a player’s maximum momentum.)
As the story goes, when Nike’s old manufacturing methods fell short of the mix of geometry and weight this newfangled footplate required, the company turned to Selective Laser Sintering (SLT) technology, using lasers to melt materials into shape. Because of this, Nike was able to prototype the boots faster than usual and make updates as it went along. This means that in future, football boots could be individually shaped for each player. One small step for Nike, one giant leap for footwear.