“When a footwear innovator like adidas approaches a company that’s never made shoes, the industry takes notice,” says an article in Sourcing Journal. The footwear brand relied on Carbon Inc., a firm that marries molecular science to 3-D manufacturing, to help develop a new adidas sneaker.
Engineers and designers at adidas set out to use liquids for the new shoe, knowing liquids can yield flexibility of design. The result from Carbon Inc. is a printed, supportless midsole for the adidas Futurecraft 4D. The midsole relies on Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology. Oxygen is put to work to control the growth of the liquid 3-D objects; light works to chisel the parts.
Each of the 20,000 struts in the midsole lattice network can be engineered to meet the specific needs of specific athletes, and according to adidas, the shoe may be “precisely tuned for controlled energy return.”
Carbon’s vice president of operations, Luke Kelly, cites the adaptability of the 3D printing process as well. “This is about new design, new performance and new business models, because you can produce on demand, you can change your option mix in real time. You can do local for local production,” Kelly says.
No announcements have been made yet regarding the availability of the new shoe.