Recently, 3D-printing has been heralded as the “next big thing” in athletic footwear design, but adidas is already taking the next step into the future. Officially departing from 3D-printing, the Herzogenaurach-based company is pushing additive manufacturing in the sport industry to the next level with the Futurecraft 4D model.
Headed for release this month in a limited 300-pair drop, the Futurecraft 4D features a midsole crafted with a novel digital manufacturing process that creates longer-lasting and better-performing soles than processes like 3D-printing. And did we mention that the resulting web of intertwined elastic polymer in the sole looks like out of a sci-fi movie?
The resulting look is lightweight and highly futuristic. The woven mesh upper is contoured and close-fitting. It rests on the web-like polymer midsole that requires no capsule or foam insert for impact absorption – the complex web of polymer is the cushioning. For traction, the Futurecraft 4D midsole sits on a black, grid-shaped outsole.
This evolution takes 2015’s Futurecraft 3D platform one step further by utilizing an entirely new manufacturing process: The Futurecraft 4D model is crafted with light and oxygen using Digital Light Synthesis, a technology pioneered by Silicon Valley-based tech company Carbon.
Created to meet the needs of athletes for responsive, lightweight, and cushioned shoes, Digital Light Synthesis is best described with a lot of tech jargon. The process, according to the press release, “uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to generate high-performance, durable polymeric products.”
On the back-end, the technology – backed by 17 years of running data – also changes the way shoes are designed, prototyped, and manufactured. Actually, traditional prototyping or moulding will no longer be necessary. The reason why: Thanks to biometric data, the shoes can be produced to match the anatomy of individual wearers.
To start the push into consumers’ hands, Digital Light Synthesis will become an integral part of Speedfactory, the adidas workshop in Ansbach, Germany. The ultimate goal is to provide customers with performance products tailored to their individual physiological data, when and where they desire.
This will happen sooner than later: While the current drop is limited to only 300 pairs, adidas wants to ramp up production infrastructure. The goal is to create high performance footwear with scale and speed through Digital Light Synthesis with more than 100,000 pairs by end of 2018. For Fall/Winter 2017, more than 5000 pairs are supposed to be available at retail.
For further information visit the Futurecraft website and follow #futurecraft on Twitter and Instagram for updates.