Adidas to 3D print custom insoles in sneakers

Runners will be custom fitted in stores

Adidas has announced a new performance running shoe line called Futurecraft 3D, which will offer consumers a custom-formed and 3D-printed midsole.

The midsole can be tailored to the shape and the cushioning needs of an individual's foot.

Linked with existing data sourcing and foot-scan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings, Adidas said in a statement.

"Imagine walking into an Adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill and instantly getting a 3D-printed running shoe - this is the ambition of the Adidas 3D-printed midsole," the company said.

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The Futurecraft 3D running shoe prototype.

Adidas said with 3D printing using CAD software, it can create a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the a runner's footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points. The midsole with be printed using a modified thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

"It's brand-new in the marketplace and convinced us with its durable elasticity as well as high tear strength and abrasion resistance," Adidas's footwear development manager, Daniel Cocking, wrote in a blog post today.

Adidas is partnering with Materialise, a 3D printing service provider that will be creating the midsoles for the sports equipment company.

Cocking did not mention when the company will begin offering the custom-printed midsole.

Materialise will use a 3D printing process called Laser Sintering, which uses a light beam to melt together powdered material on a print bed layer by layer.

screen shot 2015 10 08 at 3.03.36 pm Adidas

A midsole being removed from a bed of powdered polymer after being formed through a 3D printing process called Laser Sintering.

Cocking said since 3D printing is so fast in prototyping stages, within 2 weeks "I had run in the shoe myself." But there were other hurdles, he added.

"We found that stiffness of the midsole varied significantly as a result of very minor process or design changes," Cocking stated. "We began a thorough investigation into the process parameters required to achieve the perfect cushioning."

Adidas involved 15 of its development teams, adding a complex range of test methods and technical support that Cocking said created the world's first running shoe that is "impossible to create in any other way."

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Lucas Mearian

Computerworld (US)
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