Published: Sat, April 08, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

The Adidas Futurecraft 4D has a 3-D printed sole. Carbon/Adidas

The Adidas Futurecraft 4D has a 3-D printed sole. Carbon/Adidas

Adidas and Carbon's Futurecraft 4D shoe sole.

The Futurecraft 4D shoe will be the first one using Carbon's "Digital Light Synthesis" process.

Silicon Valley-based Carbon pioneered the Digital Light Synthesis, which created Adidas Futurecraft's teethlike-molded midsoles. A few years back, the German shoemaker released a limited batch of 3D-printed shoes. "One day, Adidas hopes to be able to use digital imaging technology to create custom soles on the spot for customers, meaning if you're 5'9" 170 and your friend is 6'2" 240, your two pair of sneakers will have a slightly different soles.

The object being printed doesn't stick to the printing surface because it's never actually touching - the surface is permeable to both the digital light and oxygen, which is injected through the surface to always maintain a ultra-thin layer of air between the printing surface and object being printed. For example, since Adidas partnered with Carbon about a year ago, it went through 50 iterations of the Futurecraft 4D before arriving at the final product.

Adidas confirmed that it will work with Carbon to develop new material and machinery for future innovations, and that Digital Light Synthesis will become a part of its Speedfactory that offers consumers bespoke performance products built to their individual physiological data. "By charting a new course for our industry, we can unleash our creativity-transforming not just what we make, but how we make it".

The excitement behind 3D-printed shoes is multifold; not only does the technology cut down production time significantly, but it allows for extreme customization.

This could Adidas to make small production runs, limited edition shoes and even soles created to fit an individual's weight and gait. Their ultimate goal, however, is to customize each shoe to fit the unique contours of a person's foot. Adidas said without the limitations posed by traditional production methods, it can bring innovative products to consumers faster than ever.

And, unlike most 3D printing, the process can move at a quick pace.

It's not the first time Adidas has experimented with 3-D printing.

Wohlers expects the 3D printing industry to more than quadruple sales to $26 billion by 2022, driven mostly by the automotive, medical, dental and jewelry sectors.

Like this: