The Futurecraft 3D story is the latest chapter of sportswear giant adidas’ race to innovate faster than the competition throughout all areas of production.
“Futurecraft is our sandbox. It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft,” explains adidas creative director Paul Gaudio.
“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.”
To achieve this, the Futurecraft vision is being made possible through collaboration with Belgian 3D printing experts Materialise on a range of projects, beginning with shoe soles.
The overarching theme is mass customisation, but with added intelligence: walking into an adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill and instantly getting a 3D-printed running shoe – but creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint wishing the midsole.
Able to match exact contours and pressure points, it will set the wearer up for the best running experience. Linked with existing data sourcing and footscan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings.
Materialise has assisted adidas with the generation of a lightweight structure in the 3D-printed midsole which would keep the shoe at a comfortable weight.
The design and engineering team at Materialise worked with 3-matic STL to create the structure, improving the midsoles’ flexibility without compromising on rigidness and strength.
The midsoles were then laser sintered in TPU, a durable fully-flexible 3D printing material, through Materialise’s certified manufacturing process.
Additive Manufacturing automation and control software Streamics provided an overview of the entire production process, ensuring the traceability and repeatability which is crucial to the manufacturing of end-use consumer products.
“Working on this project with adidas has been a great opportunity for Materialise’s certified manufacturing process,” says Haritz Elexpuru, Materialise, who coordinated the collaboration.
“From software, to rapid prototyping, to manufacturing: all of Materialise’s strengths have played their part for Futurecraft.”