One of the most exciting aspects of 3D printing is that it makes it possible to produce large batches of slightly different products quickly. Whereas traditional mass production just pumps out thousands of identical units, 3D printing processes can introduce slight tweaks to suit individuals. One of the most obvious uses for that? Shoes! Thanks to a new 3D printing process, Adidas is coming out with a new sneaker that can be produced to suit individual athletes.
As awesome as the shoe looks, the creation process is even better. It’s basically a reverse Terminator — starting with a pool of liquid polymer resin, the sole of the shoe is drawn out and hardened using ultraviolet light. Each mold can be different if a different set of instructions are uploaded, meaning Adidas can take measurements of athletes, consider what activity the shoes will be used for, and quickly churn out something tailored to that person.
The futuristic sneaker (it’s called the Futurecraft 4D, in case there was any doubt) is the result of a collaboration between Adidas and Carbon, the company that created the 3D printing process being used. Now that they’ve nailed the tech, they’re ready to get these things on feet. Adidas plans to sell 5,000 pairs by the end of this year as a sort of trial run, before ramping up production to 100,000 by the end of next year. That means much slower production than would be possible with traditional shoe manufacturing, but it seems like Adidas thinks it’s time to start getting some serious business experience with what figures to be the manufacturing process of the future.
Adidas has been doing all kinds of cool things with footwear lately. Recently, they started selling sneakers made from plastic waste found in the ocean.
Via Reuters / Featured photo via Reuters