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Adidas Debuts Game-Changing Footwear With Midsoles Made From Light And Oxygen
By Yoon Sann Wong, 10 Apr 2017
Image via adidas
3D printing, despite it’s growing popularity, has remained by-and-large a new technology that’s plagued by its own set of challenges–one being the mass production of economically-viable products. With Adidas’ latest ‘Futurecraft 4D’ high performance footwear line, this could possibly become a thing of the past.
‘Futurecraft 4D’ is Adidas’ first mass-produced 3D-printed shoe. It features midsoles made from light and oxygen that are designed for flexibility and cushioning. The realized design was achieved via a combined effort between Silicon Valley-based 3D printing company Carbon and Adidas’ innovation arm Futurecraft–brainchild behind Adidas’ environmentally friendly, biodegradable sneakers.
Though the brand has produced 3D-printed shoes before–and is not the only sports apparel company to have done so–it wasn’t able to produce economically-viable midsoles before now.
“Everyone who was doing 3D printing in footwear was frustrated,” explains Carbon’s CEO and co-founder Joseph DeSimone. “It was slow, it was unscalable–we knew it was only prototyping.”
Thankfully, Carbon managed to overcome this hurdle using a technology called Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP). In essence, CLIP significantly speeds up production time with the help of light and oxygen. “Traditional [3D] printing takes tens of hours to do; we’re now doing it in tens of minutes,” says DeSimone.
Eric Liedtke, an Adidas executive, tells Co.Design, “[3D printing] isn’t a toy anymore, it’s not a concept. Every other thing you’ve seen from 3D printing in our industry has been a functional prototype because it’s limited by the process. But what this does is takes the limitations off. We started [this project] a year ago. Now we’ve produced [300 pairs]. In a few months, we’ll have 5,000 pairs in the market, and a few months after that we’ll have 100,000 pairs in the market. Why would I not say millions in the future?”
While this is big news for the 3D printing industry, the innovation doesn’t leave Adidas sans new challenges. ‘Futurecraft 4D’ enables the brand to address each athlete’s specific needs, but without a retail experience to support the collection of wearer’s information–the “4” in “4D” stands for data–it will be some time before customizable 3D-printed shoes really turn mainstream.
In the meantime, catch the brand’s promo clips for ‘Futurecraft 4D’ below and opt to stay updated on the footwear line here.
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[via Co.Design, videos via YouTube, images via adidas]
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