CASE STUDY

adidas Futurecraft: The Ultimate 3D-Printed Personalized Shoe

2 min read

A 3D printed Adidas midsole is shown tossed up in mid-air surrounded by a cloud of white PA 12 powder. The midsole has a lattice structured base typical of laser sintering.

Your feet are unique; your running shoes should be too. Materialise’s 3D printing software and solutions are helping sporting goods giant adidas unveil the future of performance footwear with Futurecraft 3D: a unique 3D-printed running shoe midsole, tailored to an individual’s foot. As part of the Futurecraft series, this forward-looking initiative places open-source collaboration and craftsmanship at the heart of design to drive innovation across all elements of production. 

Imagine walking into an adidas store, running briefly on a treadmill, and instantly getting a 3D-printed shoe — this is the ambition of the adidas 3D-printed midsole. By creating a flexible, fully breathable carbon copy of the athlete’s own footprint, matching exact contours and pressure points, it sets the athlete up for the best running experience. Linked with existing data sourcing and footscan technologies, it opens unique opportunities for immediate in-store fittings. 

“Futurecraft 3D is a prototype and a statement of intent. We have used a one-of-its-kind combination of process and material in an entirely new way,” says Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member of adidas AG. “Our 3D-printed midsole not only allows us to make a great running shoe but also to use performance data to drive truly bespoke experiences, meeting the needs of any athlete.” 

adidas Futurecraft white shoe

For adidas Futurecraft 3D, Materialise assisted adidas with the generation of a lightweight structure in the 3D-printed midsole that would keep the shoe at a comfortable weight. Materialise’s design and engineering team worked with Materialise 3-matic to create the structure, improving the midsoles’ flexibility without compromising on rigidness and strength.  

The midsoles were then laser sintered in TPU, the first durable, fully flexible 3D printing material to be used in a consumer product, through Materialise’s certified manufacturing process. Additive manufacturing automation and control software Materialise Streamics provided an overview of the entire production process, ensuring the traceability and repeatability that is crucial to the manufacturing of end-use consumer products. 

Futurecraft is stripped back — fast, raw, and real — it is our approach to design.

— Paul Gaudio, Creative Director, adidas 

“Working on this project with adidas has been a great opportunity for Materialise’s certified manufacturing process,” says Haritz Elexpuru, who coordinated the collaboration from Materialise’s side. “From software to rapid prototyping to manufacturing — all of Materialise’s strengths have played their part for Futurecraft.” 

3D-printed sign that says Futurecraft in a powder bed
A 3D-printed Futurecraft sign in front of 3D printing powder

Next steps: the Futurecraft series 

The Futurecraft 3D story is the first chapter of the adidas Futurecraft series, which demonstrates the brand’s commitment to innovating throughout all areas of production. 

“Futurecraft is our sandbox. It is how we challenge ourselves every day to explore the boundaries of our craft,” says Paul Gaudio, Creative Director at adidas. “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.” 

True to what adidas terms as the Futurecraft vision of creative collaboration, Futurecraft 3D is made possible through an open-source partnership between adidas and Materialise. Keep an ear to the ground for announcements from the Futurecraft initiative, heralding more groundbreaking design innovations. 


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This case study in a few words

Industry

adidas 

Sporting goods 

Solutions used

Selective laser sintering 

TPU 

Materialise 3-matic 

Materialise Streamics 

Why this approach

Personalization 

Weight reduction 

How we helped

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