Adidas to 3D print custom insoles in sneakers

Runners will be custom fitted in stores

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The 3D printed Adidas midsole.

Credit: Adidas

Adidas has announced a new performance running shoe line called Futurecraft 3D, which will offer consumers a custom-formed and 3D-printed midsole.

The midsole can be tailored to the shape and the cushioning needs of an individual's foot.

Linked with existing data sourcing and foot-scan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings, Adidas said in a statement.

"Imagine walking into an Adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill and instantly getting a 3D-printed running shoe - this is the ambition of the Adidas 3D-printed midsole," the company said.

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The Futurecraft 3D running shoe prototype.

Adidas said with 3D printing using CAD software, it can create a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the a runner's footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points. The midsole with be printed using a modified thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU).

"It's brand-new in the marketplace and convinced us with its durable elasticity as well as high tear strength and abrasion resistance," Adidas's footwear development manager, Daniel Cocking, wrote in a blog post today.

Adidas is partnering with Materialise, a 3D printing service provider that will be creating the midsoles for the sports equipment company.

Cocking did not mention when the company will begin offering the custom-printed  midsole.

Materialise will use a 3D printing process called Laser Sintering, which uses a light beam to melt together powdered material on a print bed layer by layer.

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A midsole being removed from a bed of powdered polymer after being formed through a 3D printing process called Laser Sintering.

Cocking said since 3D printing is so fast in prototyping stages, within 2 weeks "I had run in the shoe myself." But there were other hurdles, he added.

"We found that stiffness of the midsole varied significantly as a result of very minor process or design changes," Cocking stated. "We began a thorough investigation into the process parameters required to achieve the perfect cushioning."

Adidas involved 15 of its development teams, adding a complex range of test methods and technical support that Cocking said created the world's first running shoe that is "impossible to create in any other way."

This story, "Adidas to 3D print custom insoles in sneakers" was originally published by Computerworld.

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