The German sportswear giant, Adidas is back with another sneaker based on a 3D-printed midsole called the Futurecraft 4D. It created with a 3D-printing process developed by the Silicon Valley startup Carbon. The Futurecraft 4D shoe will be the first one using Carbon’s ‘Digital Light Synthesis’ process. The company says the process enables it to rapidly produce new sneaker designs and scale them up to mass-production.
The Silicon Valley company’s technology creates 3D items by blasting liquid with light, which Adidas says that will enable it to operate on ‘a completely different manufacturing scale.’ The sneaker themselves have a slightly different midsole than their predecessors. With 300 pairs being released this month for friends and family, followed by around 5,000 later this year and further scaling. Adidas said that there will be more than 100,000 pairs by the end of 2018. That isn’t a huge amount for a company that sells hundreds of millions of sneakers every year, but it is a significant start—and it positions the company as a pioneer in mass-produced 3D-printing sneaker manufacturing.
It isn’t the first time Adidas has experimented with the 3-D printing. It began experimenting with the tech in 2015 and last year released a limited edition $330 sneaker called the 3-D Runner. The German brand and its big rivals, Under Armour and Nike, have all been experimenting with the 3D printing, but so far it is been mostly restricted to creating fast, and inexpensive prototypes. Adidas looks like it’ll become the first to put a 3D-printed sneaker into mass production.
The Futurecraft 4D will go on sale sometime in 2017, and then by the end of the next year, company will 3D-print another 100,000 pairs. The cost of a single pair is yet to be known right now, but Adidas has suggested the shoes will be a ‘premium’ product with a high price tag.