Cool Gear: Adidas 3D Printed Shoes Are Made to Order
Have you ever wanted to be Michael Jordan, making millions, winning NBA titles, and having your own shoes? Well, the first two almost certainly aren’t going to happen, unless you can grow a foot overnight or invent Flubber. But with the new Adidas 3D printed shoes, you can feel like Jordan, at least when you’re wearing your personalized shoes. (And, yes, we know Jordan is a Nike athlete; just go with the general idea for now.)
The Futurecraft 4D will be made from a regularly manufactured Adidas shoe, but the midsole will be inserted later. A California startup company called Carbon — funded in part by Google and GE — uses a 3D printing process called Continuous Liquid Interface Production to create the midsoles for the shoes.
The initial plan is to allow individuals to order shoes that would be molded to fit their foot shape or foot strike when walking or running. Or a company could order a limited edition of a particular shoe.
Adidas will start creating and selling the shoe over the last half of 2017, with plans for about 5,000 shoes this year. That number will climb to 100,000 shoes in 2018.
Adidas already allows customers to personalize their shoes by ordering online with custom colors. And other shoe companies have unveiled 3D printed shoes as prototypes.
But the Adidas and Carbon collaboration aims to speed up the process of printing the shoes, while maintaining the quality. Adidas reported the first set of shoes required about 90 minutes to print a single midsole. But the hope is to cut the amount of time required to around 20 minutes.
This process would replace the idea of making small batches of shoes using plastic injection technology. This method required about 10,000 shoes to be economical, so the 3D printing method for midsoles would allow for smaller batches.
Not surprisingly, the initial high cost of these shoes is the biggest drawback. (Who would’ve guessed that individually customized shoes would be expensive?)
Adidas and Carbon are working on ways to bring the shoes’ cost down, but when the Futurecraft 4D shoes initially appear, Adidas says they will have a premium cost. To keep up with the latest information regarding Adidas’ Futurecraft 4D shoes, check with the Adidas Futurecraft web page.