All day I dream about… 3D printing? adidas is reaching beyond the realm of sports and honing in on engineering and manufacturing to give their customers tailor-made footwear options.
In the fall of 2015, the sporting good company unveiled the design for its Futurecraft 3D sneaker – a running shoe featuring a unique 3D-printed midsole fit precisely to the contours of an individual’s foot. The midsole (the part that sits between the inner sole touching the foot and the outer sole that makes contact with the ground) will be modified to accommodate the specific “cushioning needs” of an athlete’s foot.
To obtain the proper measurements, customers run on a treadmill enhanced with foot-scanning technologies. The equipment records those metrics and relays them to a computer which generates a unique blueprint. The design is sent to a 3D printer to be turned into a custom-made pair of athletic shoes in line with the “exact contours and pressure points” of a customer’s foot, according to adidas.
But adidas is not the only player in this game. Last year, Nike announced a football cleat created using both 3D printing and 3D knitting, a process that turns a concept into a seamless article of clothing.
adidas is partnering with 3D printing company Materialise to make Futurecraft possible. Materialise helped adidas build a lightweight, flexible and supportive structure for the customized mid-sole and implement a repeatable production process to manufacture the footwear on a larger scale. The companies are collaborating to augment the process even further and expect to announce new developments in the Futurecraft initiative over the next several months.