Although 3D printing has become “newest thing” in industrial manufacturing, it has yet to successfully crossover into wearable technology. So leave it to the always-innovative Adidas to find a revolutionary process called Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) to make their already-impressive Futurecraft 3D training sneaker all the more amazing. With the hopes of producing 100,000 of their Futurecraft 4D sneaker by the end-of-2018, Adidas is ready to reshape our vision of the running shoe.
The Digital Light Synthesis
After introducing its Futurecraft 3D running shoe concept in 2015, Adidas has taken the customization process to an entirely different level. Created by Silicon Valley startup Carbon, the all-new Futurecraft 4D has soles made from light and oxygen that according to Adidas, “is 25 to 100 times faster than traditional 3D printing.”
The DLS process, in the most elementary interpretation, uses UV light projected through an oxygen-permeable window onto a liquid, UV-sensitive resin that morphs into the desired shape. In other words, Adidas is using this never-been-used-before technology to customize every shoe’s midsole for the perfect fit. Whether you’re a professional athlete or simply wanting a comfortable shoe, Adidas’ Futurecraft 4D takes into consideration your height, weight, impact zones, running style, and foot structure.
Adidas’ Customizable Footwear
Accessing 17 years of archived running data, Adidas has created a prototype that molds to everyone’s foot, which will optimize wearers’ cushioning and stability. Because of Carbon’s groundbreaking technology, you can build fully-customizable midsoles by pulling an impression out from a pool of resin. Similar to when an orthodontist takes a mold of a patient’s teeth prior to fitting them with braces, Adidas will be able to mold feet for the perfect-fitting sneaker.
“Pressure on the midsole delivers a welcome buoyancy to the heal, less so on the toes.”
Global Creative Director Paul Gaudio, in an interview with Cool Hunting, explains what the Digital Light Synthesis means for Adidas and the future of sneakers:
“To me, the crazy thing about this is that you cannot actually draw this with a pen and a pencil. No one sat down and sketched this. The investment is in the athletic data, the measurement, and the math – all going into what we produce.”
Not Just for Athletes
As previously mentioned, Adidas is no stranger to incorporating disruptive technology in their athletic sneakers. Adidas partnered with German sportswear manufacturer AMSilk to create its first synthetic-silk concept shoe called, “The Futurecraft Biofabric.” Unveiled at the Nov. 17th (2016) Biofabric Summit in NYC, Adidas new kicks were made out of fabric so strong that according to AMSilk, they can “catch a fully loaded Jumbo Jet 747 with a weight of 380 tons.”
Unlike the Futurecraft Biofabric, Digital Light Synthesis has never been used before and the potential for large-scale customization beyond athletes is significant. With 300 pairs being released this April (2017), 5,000 + scheduled to hit retail outlets in the Fall/Winter (2017), and 100,000 pairs ready-to-go by the end of 2018, there will be plenty of customization to go around.
Word on the street is that a pair of Futurecraft 4D kicks will set you back a good $333.