Adidas unveiled a new sneaker on Friday with a 3-D printed sole and is aiming for mass production in the coming year.
The German sportswear giant has partnered with Silicon Valley start-up Carbon to produce the shoe – called the Futurecraft 4D – with 300 pairs being released this month for family and friends, followed by around 5,000 later this year and further scaling. Adidas said there will be more than 100,000 pairs by the end of 2018.
Sportswear makers have touted the potential of 3-D printing as being able to make increasingly customized designs. But so far, 3-D printing techniques have been expensive and lacked quality.
Sneakers are traditionally made with an injection mold allowing companies to make them on a large scale. Carbon claims that its method known as "Digital Light Synthesis" will allow Adidas to get the scale for the shoe. The process works by using light to shape a liquid resin which is then heated to become solid.
Adidas said it analyzed a library of running data to come up with the perfect design for the sole. While Adidas is making one design of the shoe, it paves the way in the future for the company to tailor-make individual shoes to a specific person.
"Digital Light Synthesis allows Adidas to precisely address the needs of each athlete in regards to movement, cushioning, stability, and comfort with one single component," a press release issued by Carbon on Friday said.
Adidas did not say how much the sneaker would cost.
It's not the first time Adidas has experimented with 3-D printing. It began experimenting with the technology in 2015 and last year released a limited edition $333 sneaker called the 3-D Runner.
Rivals are also jumping onto the technology. Last year Nike struck a partnership with HP Inc to accelerate the prototyping and eventual manufacturing of 3-D printed clothing and footwear.