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ADIDAS REVEALS THE FIRST 3D-PRINTED SHOE IT’LL MASS-PRODUCE

2017-04-24 10:47:15

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ADIDAS REVEALS THE FIRST 3D-PRINTED SHOE IT’LL MASS-PRODUCE

 

 

The Futurecraft 4D has a 3D-printed mid-sole.

 

Adidas has been playing around with 3D printing as a manufacturing method for a while now, but its latest sneaker — the Futurecraft 4D — might be its most ambitious creation yet. 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 vat of liquid polymer resin, and fixed into its desired shape using ultraviolet light.

The Silicon Valley company that created the method, Carbon, say it’s faster and more adaptable than traditional additive printing, and can make mass-production 3D printing a reality. Carbon is financed by funds set up by Google and General Electric, and say its methods allow for companies to go from design to product faster than ever. They also claim the final materials are more robust and flexible than traditional injection moulded plastics.

 

However, this is still new technology, and Adidas isn’t leaping two-footed into the 3D-printed future just yet. Only 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft shoes will go on sale later this year, although the company says it aims to produce 100,000 pairs in total by the end of 2018. "This is a milestone not only for us as a company but also for the industry,” Adidas’ Gerd Manz told Reuters. “We've cracked some of the boundaries."

One of the attractions in using 3D printing for sneaker production is that it allows the creation of smaller batches of shoes. These could be small runs tailored for particular events or location, or they could even be expensive one-offs — molded to suit an individual’s foot-shape or gait. That will take time, though, as Adidas and Carbon have to bring down the costs of production before these shoes are affordable. "Individualization will come, but you've got to learn to walk before you run," said Manz. The cost of a pair of Futurecraft 4Ds is not yet known, but Adidas says it will be in the “premium” price range.