Adidas Futurecraft 4D 3d printed running shoe

Future Kicks: Adidas’ Latest Shoe ‘Grown With Light’

Adidas will soon use projected light to “grow” a running shoe midsole from liquid resin and oxygen. The shoe will be widely available, with more than 100,000 produced.

Adidas Futurecraft 4D 3d printed running shoe

Shoemakers have toyed with 3D printing a lot in recent years. But few 3D printed shoes are widely available yet. Adidas is about to take additive shoe manufacturing to a new level.

The brand today announced the Futurecraft 4D. Adidas calls it the “the first performance footwear crafted with light and oxygen.”

Adidas Futurecraft 4D 3d printed running shoe

That’s because it uses beams of light to “grow” the 3D shape of the midsole. The process, created in partnership with Silicon Valley tech company Carbon, builds the midsole in a process called additive manufacturing. The cutting-edge technique “uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to generate high-performance, durable polymeric products,” the brand states.

Digital Light Synthesis: Benefits For Runners?

What does this mean for you? Adidas claims a more comfortable shoe. Adidas explains:

Unlike any traditional manufacturing technology, Digital Light Synthesis allows adidas to precisely address the needs of each athlete in regards to movement, cushioning, stability and comfort with one single component. Carbon’s unique programmable resin platform offers unparalleled performance with respect to material durability and elastomeric responsiveness.

The new manufacturing technique enables designers, sports scientists, and engineers to bring more intricate designs into physical reality, Adidas notes.

Adidas Futurecraft 4D 3d printed running shoe

A real-world example of how this could be applied: A size 9 shoe could be designed with a midsole tuned for weight. Thus, a shoe could be purchased for not only foot size, but also runner weight. The size 9 could be different for a 150- and 180-pound runner.

And, unlike most 3D printing, the process can move at a quick pace. Adidas expects to build 100,000 shoes using the process in 2018. Check out the video below that explains the process a little more:

“Without these limitations posed by traditional production methods, Adidas can now bring the best and most innovative products to consumers faster than ever,” Adidas said. “Digital Light Synthesis will become an integral part of Speedfactory, providing consumers with bespoke performance products tailored to their individual physiological data, when and where they desire.”

Adidas Futurecraft 4D

The Futurecraft 4D will begin to trickle onto runners’ feet this fall; 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft 4D will be available at retail in fall/winter 2017 with further scaling in the coming seasons.

Adidas did not yet release much information about the shoe’s specs. It appears to be a light mesh runner with moderate to high heel-toe drop. We look forward to learning more and testing this one out soon.

Sean McCoy

Editorial Director Sean McCoy is a life-long outdoorsman who grew up hunting and fishing central Wisconsin forests and lakes. He joined GearJunkie after a 10-year stint as a newspaperman in the Caribbean, where he learned sailing and wooden-boat repair. Based in GearJunkie's Denver office, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.