3D printing is revolutionising the design and personalisation of high-end running shoes using polyurethane materials. Sarah Houlton reports.
All of the big sportswear brands have been investigating the possibilities of printing high-performance footwear. And they have been supported by the manufacturers of materials and printing equipment.
Adidas set up a strategic partnership with US-based 3D printing specialist Carbon to create its Futurecraft 4D high-performance footwear. The German sportswear brand says it used 17 years of running data to design the new midsole. This was made using a digital footwear component creation process that removed the need for traditional prototyping or moulding.
It uses Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) process. This employs digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics and programmable liquid resins to create high-performance, durable polymeric products.
The running data in Adidas’s library was used to shape functional zones into a midsole design. Using the data allowed Adidas to design midsoles which combined movement, cushioning, stability and comfort.
In contrast to standard 3D printing manufacturing methods, the DLS process is claimed to overcome issues such as low production speed and scale, poor surface quality and restrictions in colour and material.
The midsoles are…