adidas Running is no stranger to innovation: the global sportswear brand has pioneered the use of 3D printing technology for the mass production of running shoe midsoles for over four years. Today, the company has taken its next step in this journey with the launch of 4DFWD, a data-driven 3D printed midsole that is engineered to propel the wearer forward and enhance the running experience.
Like adidas’ existing 4D midsole products, 4DFWD is produced using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology, which enables the creation of finely tuned lattice structures. The new midsole is distinguished by its bowtie-shaped FWD CELL structures, which are designed to compress forward with vertical impact. According to adidas, this design generates three times as much forward motion under vertical loading compared to previous 4D midsole generations. This translates to an average reduction of peak braking force of 15%.
The complex lattice structure that gives the 4DFWD midsole its enhanced function would not be possible to produce without 3D printing and, specifically, Carbon’s DLS technology. The design was selected from five million different lattice structures and was recreated using Carbon’s technology and a 39% bio-based 3D printing material.
“4D technology provides us with the opportunity to design in a way that conventional foam midsoles do not allow,” explained Sam Handy, VP of Design at adidas Running. “We took inspiration from the first generation 4D lattice midsole and set ourselves the challenge to take it to the next level, coding millions of potential lattice structures to see if we could specifically design to counter negative mechanical forces experienced during running. Working closely with Carbon, our product teams, and testers we identified one perfect lattice midsole that is designed to compress forwards under loading and counter mechanical forces whilst delivering a unique gliding sensation for our runners.”
The new midsole underwent extensive bio-mechanical testing at the University of Calgary, where researchers analyzed factors like forward motion, braking force and running economy. The midsole was also tested with many adidas running shoes around the world through a local development team in Germany and an exclusive group of high-level running creators across the United States. adidas also worked with a team from Arizona State University on cutting edge cognitive perception testing.
Alberto Uncini Manganelli, adidas SVP and General manager adidas Running & Credibility Sports, added: “At adidas, we’re always looking to combine athlete insights with new and innovative technologies to create the best performance running products… This industry first midsole innovation positions adidas 4DFWD as our most advanced digitally printed running midsole yet and showcases the potential of 4D technology in turning physics and bio-mechanic studies into performance solutions. We cannot wait for runners to feel and experience this new product that will deliver new and exciting sensations.”
The new midsole is being launched along with a new PRIMEKNIT upper partially made using recycled polyester. The upper, whose design is informed by mapping data, offers wearers a sock-like fit with minimal added weight and good breathability; it is also optimized for the best fit with the printed midsole. The new 4DFWD will first launch in core black and solar red, though other color options will also become available, including a special Tokyo Collection, which will be worn on the podium at the upcoming Olympics. These will become available on July 1st, while the standard model is available via registration as of today.
“We’ve broken free from the design limitations of traditional manufacturing and reimagined the entire product development lifecycle expanding what can be made and accelerating how smart ideas become real,” concluded Phil DeSimone, Chief Product and Business Development Officer at Carbon. “We believe this shoe will be the highest volume 3D printed product ever produced.”