If you’re looking for proof that 3d printing can offer large scale production runs, look no further.
Adidas announced this morning it will make 100,000 of its futurecraft sneaker using 3d printing technology from a company called Carbon, which specializes in using liquid polymer resins.
“This is a milestone not only for us as a company but also for the industry,” Adidas’ Gerd Manz told Reuters. “We’ve cracked some of the boundaries.”
Nike, Under Armour and Adidas have all used 3d printing to create prototypes for sneakers as well as limited edition releases, however this will be the first attempt by a major sneaker brand to mass produce a shoe with 3d printed mid-soles.
Adidas would like to make 5,000 of its Futurecraft 4D shoe in 2017, and as Carbon speeds up the time it takes to create a sneaker’s 3d printed mid-sole down to an ambitious 20 minutes, the German apparel brand aims to create 100,000 of the Futurecraft 4D in 2018.
3d printing has always offered a way for companies to create their products quickly and if they work well, great. If not, they can easily and affordably move onto the next one. The limitations have traditionally been the production speed — which limits the unit volume — and quality control.
With Carbon — which is backed by the likes of Google and Sequoia Capital — 3d printing tech is beating down those barriers at a rapid pace and staring down traditional manufacturing methods in the face.
“Individualization will come, but you’ve got to learn to walk before you run,” Manz said.