Adidas To Mass Produce 3-D Printed Shoes

Dubbed the Futurecraft 4D shoe, these are a pair of sneakers with a 3D printed midsole that uses Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis.

"With Digital Light Synthesis, we venture beyond limitations of the past, unlocking a new era in design and manufacturing", said Adidas Global Brands board member Eric Liedtke. But right now the rest of the shoe is created using traditional manufacturing. This process allows custom shoes to be designed with the athlete's best performance fit in mind.

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However, Adidas says its new partnership with Silicon Valley startup Carbon allows it to overcome many of those difficulties to produce a sole that can rival one made by an injection mould, and at a speed and price that allow for mass production. What that meant for Adidas was creating the first ever 3D printed soles for its sneakers that use a liquid polymer as opposed to the solid plastic used in previous versions. Unlike other shoes with 3D-printed midsoles, which are released in small batches, the Futurecraft 4D line will be manufactured at the scale of 100,000 pairs by the end of 2018. However, adidas suggests that the durability and elastomeric qualities of the midsole are only possible with Carbon's materials.

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The Futurecraft 4D will begin to trickle onto runners' feet this fall; 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft 4D will be available at retail in fall/winter 2017 with further scaling in the coming seasons. It will help make 3D-printing a reality for companies looking to mass-produce.

In December past year, Adidas then followed up with the 3D Runner, a running shoe featuring 3D-printed components for greater elasticity, which the company would go on to release in limited numbers.

Yup. Adidas has unveiled its latest 3-D printed shoes. Bespoke trainers are still a ways off, but Adidas does say that DLS opens the door to tailor-made shoes for individual athletes with cushioning and stability to suit different needs. By 3D printing both the design and the final product, Adidas can skip tooling on both ends. Though other sportswear companies utilize 3D printing to create running shoes - including Adidas itself - the Futurecraft 4D collaboration marks the first time anyone's turned to DLS to make footwear.

  • Ronnie Bowen