Adidas Will Mass-Produce 3D-Printed Sneakers With This Silicon Valley Startup

Adidas Will Mass-Produce 3D-Printed Sneakers With This Silicon Valley Startup”

Now tailored shoes aren't completely unheard of, but they aren't too common but Adidas is hoping to change that with a new technique that they're hoping will improve the mass creation of 3D printed sneakers.

Breaking away from the footwear industry's 3D printing gridlock, Adidas announces Futurecraft 4D, a collaborative project with Carbon that crafts midsoles using light and oxygen-or Digital Light Synthesis. The mid-sole of the shoe is created using a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, in which the design is essentially pulled out of a Value-Added Tax of liquid polymer resin, and fixed into its desired shape using ultraviolet light. To design the shoes, adidas used such tools as motion-capture, pressure plates, foot scans and more to create a library of data related to runner movement and physiology.

Can a 3D-printed vehicle change the auto industry? "Here, we can make one iteration in a day, or sometimes two, or three", Gerd Manz, Adidas' vice president of technology innovation told Digital Trends.

3D printed materials are often rigid or malleable and wouldn't work well for a shoe.

Adidas said it analyzed a library of running data to come up with the ideal design for the sole. The shoe is a huge improvement on their last 3D-printed runners, which were more of a concept than an actual product.

Futurecraft 4D will be available later this year, with 5,000 pairs due for release in autumn/winter.

But Adidas has teamed up with Carbon - a Silicon Valley startup - who use light-sensitive plastics in their 3D printing process which promise to overcome these limitations. 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 way of comparison, Liedtke says Adidas sells 350 million pairs of standard shoes annually. The product is expected to be mass produced next year in 2018.

Adidas last month experimented with a pop-up store where customers could design a custom-fitted sweater and have it knitted in the store.

What makes all this possible is the 3D-printing process created by Adidas' partner in the venture, Carbon, whose investors include BMW, GE, and Nikon.

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