Oct 7, 2015 | By Kira
Imagine walking into an Adidas store, doing a quick lap on a treadmill, and instantly receiving a custom-made pair of 3D printed running shoes, tailored to the cushioning needs of your individual foot and capable of enhancing your athletic performance. With the latest innovations in 3D printing technology, that could be a reality in the very near future. Adidas today unveiled their concept of the future of performance footwear with Futurecraft 3D, a 3D printed running shoe midsole that can be tailored to the wearer’s foot. The shoe is part of the new Futurecraft series and was made possible through an open source partnership with Belgian 3D printing company Materialise.
“Futurecraft 3D is a prototype and a statement of intent,” said Eric Liedtke, excecutive board member of Adidas AG. “Our 3D printed midsole not only allows us to make a great running shoe, but also to use performance data to drive truly bespoke experiences, meeting the needs of any athlete.”
The pristine and lattice-like insole was made out of a unique combination of 3D printing materials and processes offering unprecedented individualized support and cushioning for athletes in the form of a flexible, breathable copy of their own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points. Though it is currently still a prototype, Futurecraft 3D represents an exciting new innovation in high-performance consumer 3D printed shoes. Unlike many other 3D printed shoe designs—while excellent in their own right—the Futurecraft 3D isn’t as much about making an aesthetic statement, as a performance-driven one, and its all-white design is minimal yet extremely stylish. "It’d be easy to make a 3D printed product for a lifestyle shoe, but it’s hard to make a 3D printed product for performance," said Liedtke. "We started with a running silhouette, because what we like is that it really reduces weight compared to a traditional midsole." Furthermore, Adidas intends to make the Futurecraft accessible to big-name professional athletes as well as consumers, who will eventually have them made during immediate in-store fittings, as described above.
The Futurecraft 3D shoe is just beginning in a larger Adidas initiative, named the Futurecraft series, which will see Adidas collaborate with outside pioneers in technological design, craftsmanship, and open source development in order to drive innovation across all elements of production. The initiative plans to announce more groundbreaking design innovations in the coming six months. "Our ambition is to always be the best sports brand in the world," says Liedtkey. "But to do that, we need to turn to partners and externals who can help us fulfill our vision. It’s not so easy to do everything by yourself."
The initiative has been underway for about one year, spearheaded by Liedtkey and creative director of Adidas, Paul Gaudio. Though it is more of an internal initiative—don’t expect to see products labeled as Futurecraft—it is a major step forward that combines the world-renowned Adidas brand and its industry-wide leverage with open-source collaboration and some of the most advanced 3D printing technology.
“Futurecraft is our sandbox. It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft,” said Gaudio. “Driving material and process innovation, bringing the familiar into the future. Marrying the qualities of handcrafting and prototyping with the limitless potential of new manufacturing technologies. Futurecraft is stripped back – fast, raw and real – it is our approach to design.”
The Futurecraft 3D printed shoe is the first of what is sure to be many game-changing products, however there is still a lot of work to done before it can go to the market. Ideally, Liedtke and Gaudio see a very limited run being made available in the summer of 2016. As a side note, Kanye West is one of Adidas’ most well-known collaborators and endorsers, but given that he has admitted to being afraid of 3D printing technology, we can only imagine what he thinks of the Futurecraft 3D.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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