German sports brand Adidas will use more 3D printers to manufacture shoe parts. The goal is to tap into new trends more quickly and to create more personalized products.
Collaboration with Carbon start-up
The brand announced its intentions at the launch of a new shoe with a 3D printed sole, which should become available at large scale later this year. Adidas wants to give its customers more opportunities to personalize their shoes. Currently, customers can already partially alter their shoes’ appearance, but 3D printers should expand those options. Certain types of shoes can now be manufactured in smaller numbers and soles can now be custom-made for each individual customer.
Adidas has entered a collaboration with American start-up Carbon to facilitate these 3D printing options. “This is a milestone not only for us as a company but also for the industry”, said Gerd Manz, Adidas head of technology innovation. “We have cracked some of the boundaries.”
100,000 pairs of shoes
Mainz is definitely not exaggerating, because even though Nike, Under Armour and New Balance have also been doing 3D printing experiments, they did it on a smaller scale: their products were only for sponsored athletes or collections that only have a few items for sale.
Adidas hopes to sell 5,000 pairs of the new Futurecraft 4D this year alone and increase that number to 100,000 next year. Currently, printing a sole takes about 1.5 hours, but Carbon says it should be able to reduce that down to twenty minutes soon. Later on, Adidas wants to measure customers’ feet in the store and create shoes entirely designed for their feet. However, it only wants to do so after it has perfected the current technology.