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Imagine if our beloved sneakers came straight from the 3D printer. What might sound crazy at first, became reality a long time ago. After many years of intensive development, the label with the three stripes has finally succeeded in creating shoes at least partially with the help of the 3D printer.

In combination with digital light synthesis, adidas is now launching a whole slew of sexy silhouettes, and it doesn't seem like they're going to stop anytime soon. You're probably wondering: What the hell is digital light synthesis, anyway? Let us enlighten you. 😉

A Science of Its Own

Digital light synthesis is a groundbreaking process that was originally developed by a company called Carbon. Using digital light projection, oxygen-permeable optics and programmable liquid resins, it is possible to create very strong and durable polymers that can be used in high-performance products. The adidas 4D sneaker is one of the very first shoes to use this advanced technology. With the intention of creating the best running shoe ever, adidas wants to use digital light synthesis to equip the midsole of the sneaker with different functional zones. In contrast to all the conventional production methods, the innovative technology makes it possible to precisely adapt to the needs of the individual athlete without using more than a one-piece midsole. This means that all individual wishes in terms of mobility, cushioning, stability, and comfort can be catered to. In addition, the programmable liquid resin is particularly convincing due to its unbeatable qualities, as it is the most durable and responsive material after a direct comparison.

What Makes the Sneakers So Special?

3D printers are usually used mainly for prototypes before the final products are later manufactured using conventional manufacturing processes. Now, however, these have the rather fundamental problem that they are absolutely not suitable for mass production. For example, the prints take a miserable amount of time and also require an incredible amount of material, which gets ultimately thrown away, anyway. The biggest criticism, however, is that almost exclusively low-quality materials are used compared to the final production. The resulting fragility of the materials is therefore an absolute no-go, especially for sports shoes, as the soles in particular have to withstand a lot. The brand with the Three Stripes was therefore only able to produce a very limited number of sneakers, which also lacked the desired qualities. However, the brand's close cooperation with Carbon should finally solve the problems. With digital light synthesis, they can now offer an in-house process that is very similar to 3D printing, but uses high-performance materials. In this way, the desired attributes can finally be realised.

A Long Development Process

Carbon's programmable liquid resin base uses light to shape the finished product and heat to define the desired mechanical properties. The printing strategy used to produce the midsoles guarantees that no other support materials are needed. This not only saves the cost of raw materials, but also minimises the additional processing steps required in conventional production.

With each new experimental development cycle, Carbon was able to gather important data, which ultimately led to the creation of a revolutionary elastic material. The newly developed EPU 40 was the only 3D printable material that was both hard and resilient at the same time, thus providing excellent energy return. The most important prerequisites for a good midsole were finally fulfilled, even if an extensive search for the perfect material mixture was necessary beforehand. Let's not forget that with this technological success, the weaknesses of conventional 3D printing could finally be circumvented, and mass production ultimately became possible.

Much More to Come

The intensive and lengthy collaboration with Carbon has more than paid off for the label with the Three Stripes. Apart from the technological success, the adidas 4D sneakers are especially popular. The unique look and the incredibly advanced soles of the shoes seem to be simply unbeatable in their combination. In fact, the kicks have been so well received that we already have four models to look forward to: the adidas Alphaedge 4D, the Futurecraft 4D, the Y-3 Runner 4D, and the ZX 4000 4D all have their own personal touch, without sacrificing the advantages of digital light synthesis. In any case, we are quite curious to see in which direction the whole story will develop. To make sure you don't miss any new releases of this technical masterpiece, subscribe to our newsletter or download our Grailify app directly.

One of the most expensive adidas 4D sneakers

Only rarely do collaborators get to put their hands on an adidas 4D sneaker. One who was lucky enough to design his own colourway is Daniel Arsham. The artist and the German sportswear label continue the minimalist theme and keep both the upper and the sole in the characteristic "Aero Green". The highlight: under black light, a hidden message is revealed in the form of the adidas Three Stripes on the side and midsole as well as "FUTURE" on each toe box. The Daniel Arsham x adidas Futurecraft 4D was released in limited edition on October 12, 2018 and has a resale value of approximately €1,900 in size US 9.
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Stella McCartney x adidas Alphaedge 4D White



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Hender Scheme x adidas ZX 4000 4D White



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Parley x adidas Alphaedge 4D



adidas Alphaedge 4D Black



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adidas Consortium Futurecraft 4D Onyx



Daniel Arsham x adidas Future Runner 4D



Sneakersnstuff x adidas Consortium Futurecraft 4D



adidas Alphaedge 4D



Parley x adidas Ultra Boost 4D Blue Spirit