• Adidas and Silicon Valley 3D printer startup Carbon have released their new shoe, called the Futurecraft 4D.
  • The shoes are made from a liquid resin that is moulded using light and heat.
  • With 100,000 shoes on the way, it is overcoming one of the biggest challenges in 3D printing, mass production.
  • They use cloud-based software to tailor the soles to an individual’s foot. 

Adidas and Silicon Valley 3D printer startup Carbon have revealed an innovative new shoe, called the Futurecraft 4D.

The soles are 3D printed using a liquid resin that uses light to set the shape and heat to bind the mechanical properties, a process Carbon calls Digital Light Synthesis (DLS).

The soles come out looking like tiny intricately bound hexagonal works of art.

Photo Adidas.
Futurecraft 4D. Photo adidas

The shoes are an answer to one of the biggest flaws with 3D printing - mass production. 3D printers are generally used for prototypes and then upscaled using traditional manufacturing methods.

The printers are often painfully slow; require wasteful part supports that are ultimately thrown in the trash; and use materials that are vastly inferior to those used for production, resulting in weak and brittle parts.

Carbon says its DLS allows for the midsoles to be printed essentially with zero support material, meaning they can save on raw material costs and dramatically reduce manual post-processing steps of traditional additive manufacturing.

Ultimately Adidas envision customers walking into a store, briefly running on a treadmill, and then watching their shoe printed before their very eyes.  

Forbes reports that as many as 100,000 pairs of shoes will be out by the end of the year, with future plans to ramp up production in the millions.

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