NEW YORK — In what it described as “a new era in design and manufacturing,” Adidas on Thursday officially unveiled its Futurecraft 4-D, performance-oriented footwear with midsoles finessed with light and oxygen-infused technology.
Silicon Valley-based Carbon pioneered the Digital Light Synthesis, which created Adidas Futurecraft’s teethlike-molded midsoles. Through analysis of 17 years of athlete-driven running data, the digital-enhanced footwear wipes out the need for traditional prototyping or moulding in the design process. In doing so, Adidas has developed a different manufacturing scale and athletic performance component, leaving behind 3-D printing.
Eric Liedtke, Adidas Group executive board member responsible for global brands, said, “With Digital Light Synthesis, we venture beyond limitations of the past, unlocking a new era in design and manufacturing. By charting a new course for our industry, we can unleash our creativity — transforming not just what we make but how we make it.”
Carbon’s programmable resin platform is said to enhance technical-oriented features, durability and elastomeric responsiveness. This month, Adidas is releasing 300 hundred pairs of Futurecraft 4-D to friends and family, and 5,000 pairs will be available at retail for fall.
Digital Light Synthesis was created by Carbon blending hardware, software and molecular science. The effort brings together Adidas designers, sport scientists and engineers to execute more involved designs. The process outperforms previous methods of manufacturing, which could help cut production time and scale, as well as eliminate poor surface quality, color and material restrictions. Adidas said without the limitations posed by traditional production methods, it can bring innovative products to consumers faster than ever.
The German activewear giant started to explore additive manufacturing through Futurecraft a few years ago, with the debut of the Futurecraft 3-D Runner, the brand’s first 3-D printed performance footwear. Adidas will continue to work with Carbon to develop new material and machinery in search of greater innovation. Digital Light Synthesis will be a key part of Speedfactory, giving consumers customized performance products based on their physiological data and personal preferences.
Carbon cofounder and chief executive officer Joseph DeSimone said, “Despite the influence of technology to improve almost every other aspect of our lives, for eons the manufacturing process has followed the same four steps that make up the product development cycle — design, prototype, tool, produce. Carbon has changed that; we’ve broken the cycle and are making it possible to go directly from design to production.”
Carbon has been pursuing its own growth track. Last fall, the company secured $81 million from new investors such as GE Ventures, BMW, Nikon and JSR, as well as existing ones, which ramped up its total funding to $222 million.