12 months ago
Adidas just announced plans to mass-produce the world’s first 3D-printed shoe.
Last year, the German sportwear company’s sold a small batch of 3D-printed shoes for $333 using the more traditional additive manufacturing method. Now, it’s using an innovative technique to go beyond prototypes and limited runs.
Its new model, Futurecraft 4D, will have a midsole that’s made through a unique process called Continuous Liquid Interface Production. The Terminator-like manufacturing process prints the design in liquid polymer resin, before baking it with ultraviolent light. It takes 90 minutes to produce one sole, according to Reuters.
The method was pioneered by Carbon, a Silicon Valley startup backed by Google and General Electric. It’s collaborating with Adidas to produce the shoe, of which the sportswear company hopes to sell 5,000 pairs this year.
Carbon plans to refine the manufacturing process, so the sole is produced in 20 minutes. In doing so, Adidas hopes to increase sales to 100,000 in 2018. The company hasn’t revealed the cost at launch, but promises the price will drop as tech improves. There’s also talk of selling personalized soles to boost athletic performance.
Other sportswear brands have dabbled in 3D-printing, but faced quality constraints that Adidas and Carbon claim to have overcome.