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3D printed Adidas concept shoe mimics running on sand for resistance training

Designer Aarish Netarwala was inspired to create the 3D printed footwear by athletes training on sand dunes

For anyone (such as myself) who has suffered a painful foot cramp from walking on sand, a new Adidas concept shoe might be a bit puzzling, but for those looking for some extra resistance while training, the shoes will be a breakthrough.

Aarish Netarwala, a student from the ArtCenter College of Design, teamed up with sportswear giant Adidas to design and create a pair of 3D printed Adidas shoes which simulate the experience of running on sand for a more intensive, high resistance workout.

The Adidas concept running shoe, named “The Grit,” is composed of Adidas’ Primeknit material, which makes up the sock-like portion of the shoe, and a complex 3D printed lattice sole. The 3D printed sole, made from a recycled, resistant and durable elastomeric polyurethane, is responsible for giving the wearer the unique sensation of running on sand.

adidas concept shoe

In other words, the lattice sole destabilizes the wearer’s foot upon each impact, not unlike how sand dislodges and gives way under the foot when it is tread upon. Fittingly, the shoe was conceived of when Netarwala visited a sand dune park in California and noticed many athletes training by climbing steep sand dunes.

“Even though exercising on soft sand was incredibly hard, the location had become so popular that the park had to be shut down and reopened with a reservation system to cater to the huge crowd,” said Netarwala. “Upon learning that there was a great demand to exercise at Sand Dune Park, I wanted to understand why people flocked to this seemingly strenuous and difficult exercise method.”

It turns out that, despite the discomfort of walking or running on soft sand, taking part in the rigorous activity can help build leg strength and can actually help reduce post-workout muscle pain. Seeking to capitalize on this increasingly popular workout, Netarwala set out to recreate the sensation in a shoe that can be worn far away from any beaches or sandy land.

The design process didn’t immediately begin with a 3D printed lattice sole, as Netarwala started by gluing sand bags to the sole of a pair of running shoes, which helped him to understand the instability caused by the soft base.

From there, he began experimenting by designing the sole of the running shoe. The final design comprises of a 3D printed lattice sole that essentially wraps around the foot. The sock portion, for its part, is inserted into the sole and secured to the sole by knitting. In keeping with his sustainable ethos, the Grit training shoes can be taken apart at the end of their life and recycled.

Adidas concept shoe

But what exactly happens when the Adidas concept shoe is worn? According to the designer, as soon as the wearer’s foot hits the ground, the elastic sole collapses and absorbs the impact. Then, as the wearer shifts his or her body weight to the front of the foot, the sole sinks, reducing the forward motion of the wearer and increasing resistance. When the foot is finally lifted again, the shoe’s sole reforms to its original structure.

Though still a concept shoe, Netarwala hopes that his innovative Grit shoe will become a part of Adidas’ Futurecraft footwear collection.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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