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Adidas Unveils the Next Generation of Futurecraft

Light and oxygen are key components in Adidas’ latest footwear innovation.

The athletic brand unveiled Futurecraft 4D, a range of high performance footwear featuring midsoles manufactured with a new light and oxygen process called Digital Light Synthesis. Silicon Valley-based tech company Carbon developed the process.

The process eliminates the necessity of traditional prototyping. With the new technology, Adidas now operates on a completely different manufacturing scale and sport performance quality, officially departing from 3-D printing. Digital Light Synthesis uses digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics and programmable liquid resins to generate high-performance, durable polymeric products.

Adidas is planning to offer more than 100,000 pairs of Futurecraft 4D by the end of next year. The company will release 300 pairs this this month for friends and family.

Through this new take on manufacturing, Adidas says its designers, sports scientists and engineers can bring the “most intricate designs of their imagination into physical reality.” And at a faster pace. Adidas says the process overcomes the shortcomings of conventional additive manufacturing methods, including issues with low production speed and scale, poor surface quality and color and material restrictions.

Futurecraft 4D is a major step toward athlete-data driven design and manufacturing. Adidas analyzed its library of running data to shape functional zones into a midsole design crafted through Digital Light Synthesis. Unlike any traditional manufacturing technology, Adidas says Digital Light Synthesis allows to precisely address the needs of each athlete in regard to movement, cushioning, stability and comfort with one single component.

“With Digital Light Synthesis, we venture beyond limitations of the past, unlocking a new era in design and manufacturing. One driven by athlete data and agile manufacturing processes,” said Eric Liedtke, Adidas group executive board member responsible for global brands. “By charting a new course for our industry, we can unleash our creativity—transforming not just what we make, but how we make it.”

Adidas plans to continue to work with Carbon in developing new material and machinery to bring about future innovations. Digital Light Synthesis will become an integral part of Speedfactory, providing athletes with bespoke performance products tailored to their individual physiological data.