Classify This Robot-Woven Sneaker With 3D-Printed Soles as Footwear

Classify This Robot-Woven Sneaker With 3D-Printed Soles as Footwear

Adidas is releasing a new sneaker design with 3D-printed soles and fabric upper that’s woven by a robot from as many as 10 different yarns. The first commercial version, called Futurecraft.Strung, will be available later this year.

“With Strung for the first time, we can program single threads in any direction, where each thread has a different property or strength,” Fionn Corcoran-Tadd, an innovation designer at Adidas’ Futurecraft lab, said in a company video. Each thread serves a purpose, the video noted. “This is like customized string art for your feet,” Tibbits says.

3D Printer robot
Beginning with a 3D-printed sole, Adidas robots weave together some 2000 threads from up to 10 different sneaker yarns to make one Futurecraft. (Credit: Adidas)

Although the robotics technology the company uses has been around for many years, what Adidas’s robotic weavers can achieve with thread is a matter of elaborate geometry. “It’s more just like a really elegant way to build up material combining robotics and the fibers and yarns into these intricate and complex patterns,” he says.

Robots can of course create patterns with more precision than if someone wound it by hand, as well as rapidly and reliably changing the yarn and color of the fabric pattern. Adidas says it can make a single upper in 45 minutes and a pair of sneakers in 1 hour and 30 minutes. It plans to reduce this time down to minutes in the months ahead, the company said.

3D-printed soles
Closeup of the weaving process 3D-Printed soles behind a Futurecraft. (Credit: Adidas)

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