AMS Spring 2023

adidas’ 4DFWD Review: 3D Printed Midsoles Really Bounce You Forward

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A couple of weeks ago, I posted about the adidas latest sneaker line to feature 3D printed midsoles, the 4DFWD. Well, my post must have made quite an impression on myself, because right after I finished writing it, I bought a pair! (In reality, my mom purchased them with a coupon and had them shipped to me.)

Image courtesy of adidas

The Cost of 3D Printed Midsoles

At $220, they were a little rich for my blood, but this issue was defrayed by the coupon, as well as by the fact that I didn’t pay for them—my mom did. In the future, I’ll see about getting adidas to “foot” the bill. In any case, the price isn’t unusual for high-end running sneakers, and most don’t have 3D printed midsoles or uppers made from recycled plastic. So, $220 might not be cheap, but it seems relatively reasonable. Of course, that’s assuming the sneakers get the job done.

3D Printed Midsoles Designed for Running

I’ve always had trouble with getting shin splints when I do cardio workouts, which is why I use the elliptical machine instead of the treadmill. Still, there tends to be a pretty consistent limit to how much I’m able to do before the shin splints start. On the other hand, I’ve recently started internalizing the criticisms my high school coaches leveled at me about my running style, and I finally get it! I was running on my heels. Gradually making the adjustment towards putting my weight on my toes instead does seem to be helping.

Thus, the feature of the adidas 4D lines that most intrigued me was the company’s assertion that the latticed midsoles “bounce the runner forward”. And they do! Usually I expect a longer adjustment period than I would with a standard piece of apparel that’s supposed to shape to your body. With the 4DFWD, they did get more comfortable by the second and third day, but I was surprised how well they conformed to my foot on the first day that I wore them.

Moreover, you can feel the latticed midsole serving its purpose as you move. I can truly say that I’ve never had better arch support from another pair of shoes. That is especially exciting for the additive manufacturing (AM) sector because it suggests that printed midsoles aren’t just a more sustainable alternative. From a performance standpoint, this is, perhaps, how all sneakers should be made.

Finally, you really can feel the sneakers bouncing you forward. So in addition to providing the wearer with improved foot support, the 4DFWD also seems to encourage a healthier running style. I expect the prevalence of printed midsoles from adidas to continue to increase, and that more and more apparel companies will start turning towards AM, as well.

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