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Adidas kicks off sneakers with 3D-printed soles

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

Adidas and Carbon's Futurecraft 4D shoe sole.

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.