By Lynne Sherwin
Carbon’s latest collaboration with Adidas made its debut May 5 and will appear on one of the world’s biggest stages this summer.
The additive manufacturing technology company and the athletic shoe manufacturer unveiled 4DFWD, the newest midsole designed and produced via Carbon’s proprietary Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) technology, which projects ultraviolet light through an oxygen-permeable window onto a bath of UV-sensitive liquid resin to form parts.
Olympic athletes will wear “Tokyo Collection” 4DFWD shoes on the medals podium during this summer’s Games, said Phil DeSimone, chief product and business development officer at Carbon.
Adidas and Carbon have worked together since 2016, combining athlete data and DLS technology to fine-tune midsoles to respond to specific patterns of movement. The new 4DFWD design utilizes a bowtie-shaped cell that generates forward motion upon compression.
“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,” said Sam Handy, VP design, Adidas Running, in a statement. “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 midsoles are manufactured using Carbon’s L1 printer, which is designed for high-volume production, and a newly developed resin that’s lighter and stiffer, optimized for runners.
“We knew we wanted to improve weight, cushioning capability and energy return, but these factors are often at odds with each other. So, the Carbon Materials team started completely from scratch,” DeSimone said.
“Adidas has always wanted to be forward-thinking in terms of sustainability from the start, so we created the new material that not only increased the performance but also was derived sustainably — all within 18 months since the prior launch. The material has over 39 percent bio-based feedstock, derived from corn, which is something we’re extremely proud of,” he said.
DeSimone said Carbon’s work with Adidas contributed to the development of Design Engine, Carbon’s new cloud-based software program that automates the process of designing lattices that can be used as alternatives to foam in a variety of industries, including automotive, electronics and home furnishings. Carbon used Design Engine to quickly develop 3-D printed swabs for COVID-19 testing at the height of pandemic shortages. Carbon has also designed products for other athletic applications, such as football helmet liners and bicycle saddles.
The 4DFWD men’s running shoe retails for $200 on adidas.com and will be available in limited quantities beginning May 15.
Carbon Inc., Redwood City, Calif., 650-285-6307, www.carbon3d.com