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ASICS Enters 3D Printed Footwear Market with $80 ACTIBREEZE 3D Sandals

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Japanese multinational corporation ASICS specializes in producing sportswear, and its new ACTIBREEZE 3D slides, with a 3D printed honeycomb build, will soon be released to the market. The breathable, thick-soled sandals feature that telltale lattice structure so often found in 3D printed footwear, and call to mind the Adidas Adilette and the Yeezy Slide, which are also the kind of chunky, backless, open-toe kicks that are popular this summer. With rounded edges and the ASICS mesh logo adorned on the side, the ACTIBREEZE 3D slides are only available in black monochrome, but that just means they go with everything, right?

These slip-on sandals may seem perfect for lounging by the pool—but that’s actually not what the shoes were designed for at all. While the slides do adapt and mold over time to the wearer’s foot contours for the highest level of comfort, they were originally meant for athletes to wear for recovery purposes after strenuous training and competitions. The 3D printed slides have open mesh perforations to keep them lightweight, as well as a soft, cushy, elastic feel. These features obviously welcome relaxation, but ASICS designed these sandals to have a more supportive build. Just as 3D printing can be used to fabricate athletic shoes, so too can the technology be put to work for the athlete’s recovery period.

“Recovery is definitely important. Today’s performance is only as good as yesterday’s recovery,” said Olympic medalist Deena Kastor, who hosted the official unveiling of the ACTIBREEZE 3D at ASICS Hall in the Erb Memorial Union.

The ACTIBREEZE 3D sandals, which took ASICS three years to develop, were actually debuted at the athletes’ village at the Tokyo Olympics. The slides were engineered to help relieve muscle fatigue, and its open-grid structure means good ventilation, as well as heat dissipation…very helpful features when you need to cool off your sweaty feet.

According to the ASICS website, “The ACTIBREEZE™ 3D SANDAL is made to help with recovery after your run. It’s formed with a paremetrically designed construction that provides zoned comfort and better breathability. Entirely 3D printed, this style also features an extra thick lattice structure that allows your body and feet to relax—allowing you to be ready for your next performance.”

Other design features of the futuristic-looking 3D printed ASICS slides include a diagonal groove that goes across the thick strap of the sandal, along a perforated ASICS motif on the side; there’s also an ASICS logo that touches the back of the shoe’s heel. Additionally, the slides feature wide basenets for more stability.

The “highlight” of the ACTIBREEZE 3D sandals is the diamond-shaped matrix inside the footbed. As previously mentioned, the insole of the 3D printed slides was designed to adapt to each person’s foot for personalized support and comfort, and the sole of the sandal itself has a bouncy feel with its thick, 3D printed lattice cushion. Do you know the scene in the movie Die Hard where John McClane takes the advice of a fellow airplane passenger and makes fists with his toes in the carpet? That’s what I want to do, but with these comfy-looking sandals.

According to a report by SmarTech Analysis on the market potential of 3D printing in the footwear industry, the sector is expected to generate $4.2 billion in revenues by 2025, with end use parts representing $3 billion of the total sector by 2028. That’s all well and good, but as always when it comes to 3D printed clothing and shoes, I want to know what the company is doing to cut down on its wastefulness. Fashion and consumer goods are very polluted industries, from wasted material and water to unnecessary shipping and warehouse inventory.

ASICS said that it uses 3D printing, 3D scanning, and design management to reduce, and even eliminate altogether, the needs of the latter two issues. The corporation hopes in the future to get to a point where it can create custom shoes for customers at the point of consumption.  As for material waste, Laura Bolgen, ASICS Global Footwear Sr Product Manager – Performance Running, said there is none.

“We’re not cutting anything off, putting a top cloth on or using any rubber,” she continued.

I can’t quite believe these sandals are completely zero-waste, but it sounds like ASICS is on the right track, at the very least.

Sometime in the next few weeks, the ACTIBREEZE 3D sandals will be released on the ASICS website, as well as select retailers, for $80. Ordinarily that’s more than I’d pay for a pair of sandals, comfortable or not, but these seem sturdier and more comfortable than most, and I’ve seen other 3D printed footwear that costs a lot more and seems to offer a lot less.

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