Could this 3D-printed chamois pad spell the end of saddle sores?

Elastic Interface debuts world's first 3D-printed chamois pad

Elastic Interface N3X chamois pad

The Elastic Interface N3X is the world’s first 3D-printed chamois pad.

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Manufactured in Italy using a specially designed 3D printer, the pad is claimed to be more comfortable and offer better breathability than a standard foam pad.

The pad, unveiled at Eurobike 2022, is slated to be available in shorts from early 2023. Brand partners are yet to be confirmed.

Why 3D printing?

3D printing gives a greater degree of control than typical foam.
Jack Luke / Our Media

3D printing has become increasingly common in the cycling tech world. It’s used in various products, but has seen particularly eager uptake from a number of saddle manufacturers.

With that in mind, Elastic Interface says extending the tech to chamois pads made sense because it offers a number of claimed benefits over a traditional foam pad.

Most of Elastic Interface’s chamois pads are made from extruded polyurethane. According to the brand, extrusion does not allow you to control cell structure, so you are more limited when it comes to controlling density.

As with bike saddles, 3D printing enables you to control density (ie, how squishy the pad is) with a high degree of localised control.

In the hand, the 3D-printed chamois feels very different to a typical foam pad.

The denser samples feel a bit firmer than foam, but it also appears the lattice structure can be modified such that the pad compresses in a diagonal plane.

In addition to increased comfort, the pad is claimed to be more breathable thanks to its open-lattice structure.

The material is also hydrophobic, meaning it will not absorb sweat, further increasing comfort.

Which shorts feature an N3X chamois pad?

Shorts with the pad will be available from Q1 2023.
Jack Luke / Our Media

N3X technology is patented by Elastic Interface, but as one of the world’s biggest suppliers of chamois pads, it’s likely to end up being used by a number of brands.

The 3D-printed pad will initially be available in high-end bib shorts.

Elastic Interface couldn’t confirm which brands it is working with, but as a high-end product, we expect to see the pad used in premium products from existing partners such as 7mesh, Assos, Eliel and others.

Shorts will be commercially available with the new pad from early next year, but we’re hoping to have samples for testing from September onwards.

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The brand also intends to port the technology over to its gloves in the future.