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Adidas unveils new 3D printed shoe

08 April 2017

Reuters reported that Adidas and Carbon will be able to produce the "Futurecraft 4D" shoes at a speed suitable for mass production.

Because while the first step is just to get to mass-production, Adidas eventually sees a future where everyone will be able to have their own 3D-printed shoe, with the midsole totally customized to their individual needs.

"With Digital Light Synthesis, we venture beyond limitations of the past, unlocking a new era in design and manufacturing", said Eric Liedtke of Adidas. The midsole is formed using Carbon's "Digital Light Synthesis" technique, which uses oxygen and light to form the sole.

This month, adidas will release 300 pairs of the Futurecraft 4D shoe to friends and family; more than 5,000 pairs are expect to release at retail this Fall/Winter 2017 season.

Carbon's Digital Light Synthesis technique uses controlled bursts of light and oxygen to create solid 3D objects from a pool of liquid resin.

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The German brand and its big rivals, Nike and Under Armour, have all been experimenting with 3D printing, but so far it's been mostly restricted to creating fast, low-cost prototypes. A recent analysis from market research NPD Group says that while the overall running shoe market declined with most major brands struggling, Adidas has been the exception. But few 3D printed shoes are widely available yet.

However, Carobn's technology allows Adidas to overcome those obstacles. Under Armour debuted the Architect, a 3D-printed shoe for Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics a year ago, while Nike doubled down on its own 3D printing venture, the ManRev initiative.

The Futurecraft 4D will come at a premium compared to other Adidas shoes, but the company is staying mum on price right now. Still, the technology has a long way to go before it becomes financially viable to offer more customization options to consumers.

The final product has a smooth surface and looks like one piece, rather than the rough, layered look produced by other printers.

You can check out the promo video from Carbon below. Carbon also says it has "developed a proprietary print strategy for midsoles that enables printing with essentially zero support material", saving on raw material costs and shaving time off the post-processing stage.

Adidas unveils new 3D printed shoe