Adidas to mass produce factory-ready 3D printed shoe

Posted April 08, 2017

According to Emma Thomasson and Aleksandra Michalska from Reuters, Adidas released a new sneaker on Friday with a 3D-printed sole. Adidas just unveiled its Futurecraft 4D, whose midsole is 3D printed nearly instantaneously due to a pioneering new technology.

By the end of 2018, adidas plans on producing more than 100,000 pairs of of shoes using Digital Light Synthesis technology.

[Photo: Adidas] Futurecraft 4D was developed by Carbon, a 3D printing company based in Silicon Valley, and Futurecraft, Adidas's innovation arm, which typically focuses on moonshot projects, like shoes made from ocean plastic and shoes that can biodegrade in your sink.

The new Futurecraft 4D features a midsole produced using an additive manufacturing (AM) technology called Digital Light Synthesis, and eliminates traditional prototyping or moulding. The process will allow for more personalized shoes, shaped to an individual's weight and gait. Adidas claims a more comfortable shoe.

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A look at the Futurecraft 4D's 3D-printed midsoles.

While the brand unveiled limited-edition 3D-printed shoes a year ago, it didn't have the manufacturing infrastructure to bring them mainstream.

Adidas said it analyzed a library of running data to come up with the flawless design for the sole. In the past, Adidas could only prototype the midsole of a shoe using 3D printing but still required the use of traditional molding and manufacturing to get the finished product. The shoes will rollout in small batches in specific cities and for specific stores, but Adidas will eventually set up in-store measurements. 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.

Adidas says that a great deal of thought has gone into the Futurecraft 4D.

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Initially Adidas will release 300 pairs of the Futurecraft 4D trainers in April 2017.

Adidas did not say how much the sneaker would cost. 3D printing is their solution; it is the No. 1 thing on their whiteboard in their conference rooms on how to innovate: "to reduce the amount of time it takes to produce their products, reduce warehouse and fixed costs to move them to the variable tab".

Carbon's printing process uses a photosensitive resin that hardens as light hits it.

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