Additive Manufacturing Strategies

New 4D Fusio 3D Printed Shoe Line from adidas Leaked

ST Medical Devices

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The latest adidas sneaker with 3D printed midsoles has been revealed. Dubbed the 4D Fusio, the fluorescent-colored shoes were leaked by sneaker insider hypebeast on Instagram.

The new shoe has a striking upper of Primeknit, with black, pink, and orange knits that form thinner and thicker portions of the upper. You’ll notice that, though the midsole of the 4D Fusio relies on the now-signature 3D printed style associated with the adidas Furturecraft brand, this is the first time that it features multiple colors fading into each other.

The 4D Fusio shoe line from adidas.

Details about how this was achieved have not yet been revealed, but it is possible to transition from one resin to another in vat photopolymerization technologies. This is typically performed manually, but because Carbon’s digital light synthesis technology is meant for production scale and adidas is meant to act as a demonstrator for this mass production, there is a possibility that the partners have found a way to automate resin switching.

This brings up another question about the 4D Fusio line: exactly how many pairs does adidas plan to produce? The sports apparel giant set a goal to use 3D printing in the production of 100,000 shoes in 2018. It also planned to introduce more recycled materials in the future. As of November 2019, it had continued to list the number 100,000 as the projection for the previous year, making it difficult to confirm how many the company ultimately manufactured with 3D printing.

In 2019, the company also shut down its Speedfactory plants in Germany and the U.S. and relocated them to Asia, which our executive editor, Joris Peels, suggested may have been a sign for shoe 3D printing. The facilities were meant to deploy 3D printing and other automation technologies to improve the efficiency of footwear production. Though it may not have been able to localize production, as the Speedfactories were meant to, it’s possible that adidas has begun to lay the foundation for a new way of making shoes, with its Speedfactories in Asia rather than the U.S. and Germany.

The company has continued to steadily expand its designs and production technology. Since Futurecraft 4D shoes were first launched in 2017, adidas has partnered with the likes of Stella McCartney, Pharrell Williams and Lucas Films on shoe designs featuring 3D printed midsoles. Additionally, in October 2020, adidas showcased an automated weaving system capable of knitting the uppers for its shoes.

In its report, “3D-Printed Footwear 2020-2030, an Analysis of the Market Potential of 3D Printing in the Footwear Industry”, SmarTech Analysis projects 3D printing in footwear to generate over US $4.2 billion in annual revenues in 2025. Adidas has certainly garnered the most headlines in this segment and seems to be the first to actually establish a production workflow toward mass 3D printing of shoe components. However, there may be Asian competition around the corner.

The new 4D Fusion line is expected to drop on January 15 with a price of about USD$245 (EUR€199.95). Such retailers as 43einhalb are being reported as among the first to offer the shoes, so keep an eye out.

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