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Adidas reveals the first 3D-printed shoe it'll mass produce


"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.

Created to take the running shoe standard to the next level, the "Futurecraft series" initiative is aimed at driving innovation across all elements of production.

Unlike additive 3D printing, Carbon's proprietary CLIP technology leans on oxygen permeable optics, digital light projection, and programmable liquid resins to manufacture an object.

Adidas and Carbon have the manufacturing technology to bring 3D printed shoes mainstream.

Adidas used its extensive library of running data to shape functional zones into a midsole design crafted through Digital Light Synthesis, explains Carbon.

Carbon, the company behind the manufacturing process, says: "We're enabling engineers and designers to create previously impossible designs, and businesses to evolve their offerings, and Futurecraft 4D is evidence of that".

Futurecraft 4D's midsole was created without the necessary traditional prototyping and moulding, essentially increasing "speed to market", according to Matt Powell, Sports Industry Analyst at The NPD Group.


The different applications companies can use 3D printing to transform their production capabilities are huge.

To create the shoes Adidas has teamed up with Carbon, a Silicon Valley-based 3D-printing company we've covered before. SLA, on the other hand, uses an ultra-violet laser to transform light-sensitive liquid into a solid.

Eric Liedtke called it the "holy grail" as he pointed to the Futurecraft 4D.

The beauty of the 3D print technology is that it will allow even more customization for customers and their sneakers.

3D printing will also help cut the time it takes to get new designs to stores from the 12 to 18 months it usually takes for sneakers.

Although it presents Digital Light Synthesis and the Futurecraft 4D as something of a footwear revolution, it is worth remembering that a lot of sportswear companies have already made their own 3D printed shoes. With this data, the company mapped out "functional zones", such as those related to cushioning and stability, that were designed into the 3D-printed midsole.

High-tech hype aside, Adidas is having a good run in the performance shoe category right now.

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