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The shoe, called Futurecraft 4D, is the creation of Adidas and Carbon, a startup in Silicon Valley. There are 300 pairs of shoes being released for family and friends. Later this year, 5,000 more shoes will be released, and further scaling as time goes on. Adidas is hoping to release more than 100,000 pairs by the end of next year.
The shoes were created via a method called Digital Light Synthesis. This method allowed the startup to print objects much faster than other 3D printers. The main difference is that Carbon’s process is continuous and begins at the bottom; traditional 3D printers print an object layer by layer, from top to bottom.
Gerd Manz, the head of technology innovation at Adidas, said this was a milestone for the company, as well as for the industry. He said Adidas has cracked some of the boundaries in the industry.
It’s not clear how much the 3D printed shoes will cost, but it’s believed Adidas will lower the cost of it as the technology develops.
Carbon’s technology will allow Adidas to make small batches of shoes quickly. In the past small production runs were not as economical because the metal molds for soles were expensive, and took 4 6 weeks to cast and grind.
This isn’t the first time Adidas has dabbled with 3D printing. In 2015, the company experimented with it and last year it released the 3 D Runner. The sneakers had a price tag of $333.