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Adidas Using 3D Printing to Develop Customizable Midsoles

A shoe that's individualized for your own foot? The future is here.

The idea of creating running shoes customized to a specific runners needs has been talked about for years, but a new advancement from adidas is starting to make it a reality. Adidas has developed a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole concept that can be tailored to the cushioning needs of an individual’s foot. The 3D concept is part of the “Futurecraft Series,” a next-generation initiative that places open source collaboration and craftsmanship at the heart of design to drive innovation across all elements of production. (Watch this video for more details.)

In its new 3D concept, adidas says it has created a unique combination of material and process. The company says this production breakthrough will take the running shoe standard to the next level, offering unprecedented individualized support and cushioning for every foot, to enable athletes to perform at their best.

How will this come to life for runners? Imagine walking into a running store, then running briefly on a treadmill and to get individualized specs for a 3D-printed running shoe. Creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it will set the athlete up for the best running experience. Linked with existing data sourcing and footscan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.

No specific product or launch date has been announced for the 3D-printed midsole concept.

“Futurecraft 3D is a prototype and a statement of intent. We have used a one-of-its-kind combination of process and material in an entirely new way. Our 3D-printed midsole not only allows us to make a great running shoe, but also to use performance data to drive truly bespoke experiences, meeting the needs of any athlete,” said Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member of adidas AG, responsible for Global Brands.

 The Futurecraft 3D story is the first chapter of the adidas Futurecraft series, which demonstrates the brand’s commitment to innovating throughout all areas of production.

“Futurecraft is our sandbox. It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft. Driving material and process innovation, bringing the familiar into the future. Marrying the qualities of hand crafting and prototyping with the limitless potential of new manufacturing technologies. Futurecraft is stripped back – fast, raw and real – it is our approach to design” said Paul Gaudio, Creative Director, adidas.

RELATED: New Balance Launching 3D Printed Running Shoe in 2016

True to the Futurecraft vision of creative collaboration, Futurecraft 3D is possible through an open source partnership with Materialise, a pioneer and leading specialist in 3D printing. The Futurecraft initiative will announce more ground breaking design innovations in the coming six months and further support adidas’ ambition to be the best sports brand in the world.

Adidas says the midsoles are printed from a material called Modified Desmopan TPU developed by Bayer. The raw material is ground up and supplied to Materialise for 3D printing. Once printed, it is assembled with the upper portion of the shoe at the Adidas production center in Scheinfeld, Germany.