In my family, there’s such a thing known as ‘Michelle Shoes.’ These are shoes whereby comfort is by far the emphasis over appearance. Think Birkenstocks, but not quite that Flinstones-like. (I have been able to avoid Uggs and Crocs, but barely.) I am known for my lack of fashion flair when it comes to footwear–that’s for sure. In a sense, shoes’ turn to 3D printing has validated my constant quest for comfortable shoes: after all, isn’t the goal of making a unique scan of your feet and printing shoes to your feet’s exact requirements the penultimate in comfort? I think so.
Apparently, other athletic shoe companies think so too. Nike launched the Vapor Hyperagility Cleat in 2014, which is a 3D printed shoe. And the athletic shoe company Adidas also thinks that 3D printing is a natural fit with athletic shoes. Adidas has launched this idea as part of its Futurecraft series, and the printed shoe idea is called Futurecraft 3D.
“Futurecraft 3D is a prototype and a statement of intent. We have used a one-of-its-kind combination of process and material in an entirely new way. Our 3D-printed midsole not only allows us to make a great running shoe, but also to use performance data to drive truly bespoke experiences, meeting the needs of any athlete,” explained Adidas’ Executive Board Member Eric Liedtke, responsible for global brands.
The idea for Future3D is the following: go to an Adidas store, have your foot scanned, pick your shoe style, and then place your order to be 3D printed. But that’s not all. You will be encouraged to test out your shoe on a treadmill so Adidas can also attain your “performance data” and craft the perfect midsole for you based on the information received from the combined scan and treadmill run. This is a new way of merging process with material, for sure. And all of that extra emphasis on the midsole will speak volumes to people suffering strain in that particular area.
“Futurecraft is our sandbox,” said Paul Gaudio, Adidas’ creative director. “It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft. Driving material and process innovation, bringing the familiar into the future. Marrying the qualities of handcrafting and prototyping with the limitless potential of new manufacturing technologies. Futurecraft is stripped back – fast, raw and real – it is our approach to design.”
Now, before you get too excited, please understand that Futurecraft 3D is not in stores yet and a market launch date hasn’t been set. It’s a ‘statement of intent’ brought to customers from Adidas, revealing what people can expect from the company in the (not too distant) future. Bummer. Given the problems I have been having lately with shoes, I would probably march to an Adidas store right now and have my feet scanned. Apparently though, further announcements about the scanning/printing/bespoke midsole idea will not be forthcoming until early 2016. That’s Okay. We can wait a few months, can’t we?
In the meantime, I guess I will still have to rely on my collection of various shoes that now will annoy me further because I know that the idea of the perfect-fitting shoe, and the technology to achieve it, is out there. Discuss this story in the Adidas 3D Printed Shoe forum on 3DPB.com.