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Adidas kicks off sneakers with 3D-printed soles

The German sportswear company partners with startup Carbon to streamline your stride.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
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Adidas and Carbon's Futurecraft 4D shoe sole.

Adidas/Carbon

Using 3D printing tech to create custom parts is nothing new. But using it to mass-produce them is.

That mass-produced customization is coming to footwear, thanks to 3D-printing tech from startup Carbon. The company uses additive printing -- using liquid rather than filament in a process similar to injection molding ("Terminator style") -- and Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) resin-curing technology, which allows for faster, more precise layering.

In a partnership with Adidas, Carbon is providing the technology to produce custom soles for the athletic wear company's Futurecraft 4D sneakers, starting in limited production and ramping up to about 5000 pairs for sale by the end of the year.

3D printing produces fairly rigid output. With its DLS, which uses "digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to generate high-performance, durable polymeric products," the company claims the output is both durable and flexible. The latter, of course, is an essential for sneakers.

Get ready: The future of pampering your tootsies is nigh. It remains to be seen if that price is high.