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Adidas Uses Light, Oxygen to Revolutionize Additive Manufacturing, Sports Industry

Image Credit: Adidas

Just days after Reebok announced plans to introduce a plant-based, compostable shoe later this year, Adidas has launched a new piece of performance footwear featuring midsoles crafted with light and oxygen.

Futurecraft 4D utilizes Digital Light Synthesis technology, which was pioneered by Silicon Valley-based tech company Carbon. The technology uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics and programmable liquid resins to generate high-performance, durable polymeric products. It takes the concept of additive manufacturing to the next level and has allowed Adidas to eliminate the process of traditional prototyping or molding, as well as 3D printing.

“Despite the influence of technology to improve almost every 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. Futurecraft 4D is evidence of that,” said Dr. Joseph DeSimone, Co-Founder and CEO at Carbon.

Futurecraft 4D is Adidas’s first application of Digital Light Synthesis and represents the brand’s step into athlete-driven design and manufacturing. The new take on manufacturing enables Adidas designers, sports scientists and engineers to transform even the most intricate designs into reality. It also overcomes the shortcomings of conventional additive manufacturing models, including low production speed and scale, poor surface quality and color and material restrictions. Without these limitations, Adidas can now bring the high quality and innovative products to consumers faster than ever.

The company analyzed its library of running data to shape functional zones into a midsole design crafted through Digital Light Synthesis. The process allows Adidas to address the needs of each athlete in regards to movement, cushioning, stability and comfort with one single component. Carbon’s programmable resin platform offers unparalleled performance with respect to material durability and elastomeric responsiveness. An initial 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft 4D shoes will be available at retail in fall/winter 2017, with the ultimate goal of creating 100,000 pairs by the end of 2018.

“Our partnership with Adidas will serve as an ongoing testament to how the digital revolution has reached the global manufacturing sector, changing the way physical goods are designed, engineered, made and delivered,” added Dr. DeSimone.


Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]


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