A Perfect Sole?

Futurecraft 3D is a new 3d printed shoe from Adidas that is not only flexible and breathable but also, thanks to 3D printing technology, completely customized to the specific intricacies of your foot.

The shoe’s 3d printed midsole and outer sole results from collaboration between Adidas and the 3d printing company Materialise. Still in the prototyping phase, the unique customization is possible via a foot-scanning technology that measures and analyses specific pressure points and other requirements in order to customize in-store a running shoe that is best for your body. “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 in a statement.

The mid- and outer sole with be printed using a modified thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and utilize a 3D printing process called Laser Sintering, which involves uses a light beam to melt together powdered material on a print bed layer by layer. The lattice-like bed of foam that results will replace the styrofoam base of its counterparts.

Futurecraft 3d was a concept propelled by Eric Liedket and Paul Gaudio of Adidas, who are the chief marketing office and creative director respectively. With this concept, they hope to push the company’s technical initiaitve and open up its technologies to outside collaborators – like Materialise.

So will this be the future of running shoes? The technology is of course still in development and there are certainly some hurdles yet for 3-printing technology to overcome, particularly when it comes to performance footwear. “It’d be easy to make a 3-D-printed product for a lifestyle shoe, but it’s hard to make a 3-D-printed product for performance,” says Liedtke. “We started with a running silhouette, because what we like is that it really reduces weight compared to a traditional midsole.”

“We have a lot of work to do, let’s be honest,” says Liedtke. “The idea right now is to show what’s possible and have people join us. Ideally we would have limited product—and I mean limited—in the summer of 2016.”

In the meantime, the team is focused on refining its experiments as the world of 3d printing continues to advance!