Latest 3D printed adidas shoes feature recycled uppers –

adidas has had more success with additive manufacturing (AM) so far than any other major consumer brand, using the technology to print over a million midsoles so far. Following the 4D Futurecraft and AlphaEDGE 4D lines, the latest line – the 4DFWD – is expected to be adidas’ biggest AM production series to date.

Additionally, the athletic apparel and footwear giant continues to be more innovative with each iteration of 4D. The Ultra 4DFWD, which was just released in June, has an upper made from adidas’ exclusive property primeknit material, made of 50% Parley Ocean Plastic and 50% recycled polyester.

This combines adidas’ success in its AM efforts, as well as its other forward-thinking project in recent years, Recyclables. In fact, one of the company’s first high-profile uses of AM was to produce a concept shoe, launched in 2015, with an upper made from a combination of recycled ocean plastic and recycled polyester. The following year, adidas released a limited run (about 7,000 pairs) of the shoe, called UltraBOOST Uncaged Parley. However, the version of the shoe that was actually sold was not produced using AM.

Thus, adidas provides an excellent example of the gradual nature of the trajectory to success when it comes to a large company’s ability to integrate AM – along with other newer technologies – into its manufacturing processes. routine production. A phased approach seems particularly crucial for companies in consumer sectors, and especially any sector where personal tastes are of the highest consideration.

For example, aside from the fact that the midsole made by adidas with AM has a shape that can ideally be produced by AM, that general shape happens to be “in”, in terms of consumer preferences. It’s not something adidas could have known when it first started using AM, but now that the company is able to use the technology for higher production volumes, it’s in a position to start. potentially significantly increase the number of products it prints.

This helps shed light on the perennial question of when AM will be used to accelerate mass customization. That this will eventually happen seems more realistic than ever. But again, this is going to continue to be a gradual process for the foreseeable future, and it will have to come, first, from big companies that have already dipped their toes in AM waters for years before. Simply put, a company’s AM infrastructure must probably have stood the test of time and proven itself, before mass customization of any kind can even be considered. On the other hand, once we start seeing the first notable cases of AM-based mass customization, I think we’ll start seeing a lot more of it very quickly.

Images courtesy of adidas

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