adidas has today launched its latest running shoe made with Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis 3D printing technology.

The 4DFWD is the result of four years of collaboration between the two companies and combines decades of adidas athlete data with Carbon’s additive manufacturing process to create a midsole that pushes runners forward.

Central to what Alberto Uncini Manganelli, adidas SVP and General Manager adidas Running & Credibility Sports described as the sportswear giant’s “most advanced digitally printed running midsole yet,” is the bowtie-shaped ‘FWD CELL’, identified from five million possible lattice structures and specifically engineered to compress forward and redirect energy upon vertical impact. Compared to previous iterations of the 3D printed 4D midsole, which includes the Futurecraft 4D, AlphaEDGE 4D and 4D Run, 4DFWD is said to generate three times as much forward motion under vertical loading in mechanical testing conditions while peak braking force is reduced on average by around 15%. The shoe has undergone testing at the University of Calgary and Arizona State University and has also been put through its paces with adidas runners around the world.

Sam Handy, Vice President Design, adidas Running, said: “4D technology provides us with the opportunity to design in a way that conventional foam midsoles do not allow. 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.”

Speaking to TCT, Carbon Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, Phil DeSimone added: “It’s more than just comfort, it’s about ‘how do we make the athlete better?’ and really pushing us and the limits together was key in getting to this launch. It wasn’t just about launching a new design that helps sort of take foot pressure [to] propel your body forward through the physical collapsing of that unit cell but it was also about getting to a material that had better energy return, that allowed for lighter weight options. I think this is just the beginning. I think we’re still in the first couple of innings of what’s possible. This product really shows you what a true partnership looks like in the additive space to bring forward probably arguably the highest volume end-use 3D product in the world.”


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The midsole has been manufactured with 39% bio-based material and provides 23% more cushioning compared to previous generations. The super-lightweight ‘PRIMEKNIT’ upper has also been made in part from recycled polyester to give runners a sock-like fit while historical mapping data is said to have been applied to align the upper with the unique properties of the 4DFWD midsole.

The 4DFWD will be made available to consumers in a core black and solar red colour-way via a sign-up window from May 5-16 and a Tokyo Collection, which will be the main podium shoe for athletes at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, will be made available from July.


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