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Growing Performance Footwear Using Light & Oxygen

Posted on April 12th, 2017 by in Chemical Manufacturing Excellence

adidas Futurecraft 4D

Image by adidas via

Spring is in the air, but this year more than flowers and trees will be using light and oxygen to grow. Adidas has partnered with Carbon 3D to harness them in manufacturing individualized performance footwear.

Transitioning from concept to reality, Adidas recently announced their go-to-market strategy around a new brand – Futurecraft 4D – representing new products leveraging athlete-data driven design and manufacturing. The partnership combines Adidas’ long history of running data with Carbon’s advanced manufacturing process of Digital Light Synthesis using their unique programmable resin platform. Unlike traditional 3D printing, the Carbon process previously discussed here uses light and oxygen as polar opposites from a chemical perspective to control solidification of resins – a process they call CLIP – Continuous Liquid Interface Production.

Adidas first brought this concept to market under the brand of Futurecraft 3D Runner in 2014 delivering 3D printed performance footwear. This latest endeavor is purported to scale up to mass production targeting retail availability of 5,000 pairs of footwear in the fall/winter 2017 season. According to Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Carbon Co-Founder and CEO, their new process fundamentally shortcuts the traditional manufacturing development process including creation of expensive tooling. “Despite the influence of technology to improve almost every other aspect of our lives, for eons the manufacturing process has followed the same four steps that make up the product development cycle – design, prototype, tool, produce. Carbon has changed that; we’ve broken the cycle and are making it possible to go directly from design to production. We’re enabling engineers and designers to create previously impossible designs, and businesses to evolve their offerings, and Futurecraft 4D is evidence of that.”

Using liquid resins, the Carbon process is technologically fascinating to witness and consider. You can see it in action in the following video hosted on their YouTube channel:

When you think about it, what better application can there be for a manufacturing “lot size of 1” than products fitting the human body. Like our fingerprints, each of us is unique in height, weight, clothing size, as well as foot size and shape. A running shoe custom fit to the exact anatomy, size, morphology, and curvature of my foot has the potential to banish future notions of “break in” periods and blisters. Dare to dream and afford it.

How could your company apply Carbon’s new technology in your go-to-market strategy? Tell us about your quest for unconventional knowledge and what it could mean for the future of your products or companies. Share your thoughts in the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on your favorite social media channel.

All opinions shared in this post are the author’s own.

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