Adidas Unveils Limited Edition 3D-Printed Running Shoes

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Though 3D printing technology has been available for over two decades, it has not gone mainstream as hoped because of the high cost and slow print speed. But that may change soon, thanks to German sportswear manufacturer Adidas. On December 15, 2016, the company revealed Adidas 3D Runners, stylish sports sneakers featuring a 3D printed midsole that provides athletes with the extra cushioning needed for optimal performance.

Unlike traditional midsoles, these are not a uniform foam, but web-like structures with varied density to take into account the impact areas of the foot. This means that the mesh is thicker in the shoe’s front and posterior, both of which hit the ground hard when the athlete runs. A 3D-printed heel, incorporated into the midsole, eliminates the need for traditional gluing or stitching. The shoe upper, made of Primeknit, a mechanically knitted yarn, allows for increased flexibility, stability, and protection in the impact areas.

Photo Credit: Adidas

Not surprisingly, the stylish, limited edition black training shoes that were only available for sale in New York City, London, and Tokyo and cost a hefty $333 USD, were an instant hit and sold out within hours of their release. Though not affordable or available to the mass market, the radical shoes are an encouraging step in the right direction for more widespread use of the technology. Adidas is working on making additional 3D printed gear, and as the technology develops and printing speeds increase, the prices will start to head down.

Being able to offer 3D printed shoes at a low cost has the potential to change the shoe industry as we know it today. That’s because instead of having to choose from ready-made sizes, customers will be able to customize footwear so that it fits their feet perfectly. The process would also be cost-effective for the manufacturers given there is no wasted material or excess inventory.

Photo Credit: Adidas

While printing 3D objects may sound complicated, the process is relatively straightforward. Once the design is downloaded to a printer, a laser creates a layer of material, usually plastic or metal. Successive layers are deposited above one another and fused together until the product is complete. The technology can be used to build everything, from shoe soles to a microwave oven. There is currently even an effort underway to make a printer that is large enough to create the cement layers required to build a house.


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Reading Comprehension (9 questions)

  1. Why has 3D-printing technology not gone mainstream yet?
  2. What did Adidas unveil on December 15, 2016?

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If manufacturers had no excess inventory to get rid of, how could...


Vocabulary in Context

“Unlike traditional midsoles, these are not a uniform foam, but web-like structures with varied density to take into account the impact areas of the foot.”


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  • Shirin Tuesday, March 13, 2018 at 3:29 pm
    Awesome I am getting a pair
    • AWESome gymnastThursday, March 8, 2018 at 6:32 am
      im getting a pair
      • infernodragon
        infernodragonTuesday, January 2, 2018 at 9:19 pm
        wow this is cool
        • 666Tuesday, December 12, 2017 at 1:30 pm
          Should of made it cheaper because if people have 3d printers they can make that shoe at their house with the same material. i am awesome
          • GuyThursday, November 23, 2017 at 4:59 pm
            Cool but expensive junk
            • kawaii200424
              kawaii200424Sunday, November 5, 2017 at 2:18 pm
              These are not budget friendly!!!!
              • Joshua#JboogieFriday, September 29, 2017 at 6:22 am
                All the shoes kids talk about today are Curry's, Jordan's, and KDs
                • ;)Tuesday, September 26, 2017 at 10:55 am
                  those shoes need to be cleaned
                  • LittyWednesday, September 6, 2017 at 11:08 am
                    Ya that's right,.👌👌👌
                    • LittyWednesday, September 6, 2017 at 11:07 am
                      These shoes are the weirdest magiger thingy things he yanuej

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