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May 6, 2021

Adidas harnesses data for 3D printed midsole

German sportswear giant Adidas has unveiled a data-driven 3D printed performance running midsole designed to compress forward upon vertical impact, providing runners with an all-new experience.

By Giacomo Lee

German sportswear giant Adidas has unveiled a data-driven 3D printed performance running midsole designed to compress forward upon vertical impact, providing runners with an all-new experience.

The company has worked to develop 4D lattice midsole technology in partnership with Carbon for four years by combining athlete data and Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology to produce precision-tuned 3D printed midsoles. Adidas’ 4D footwear is said to be amongst the first in the world to use this technology which offers the ability to fine-tune midsoles to specific patterns of movement so athletes can enjoy precision performance with every step.

Born from this process is the new Adidas 4DFWD lattice midsole. Identified from one of five million possible lattice structures and made of 40% bio-based material, the bowtie-shaped FWD Cell has been specifically coded to compress forward upon vertical impact. When compared to previous generations of 4D midsole, Adidas 4DFWD generates three times as much forward motion under vertical loading in mechanical testing conditions.

As a result, peak braking force experienced by the athlete during running is reduced by 15% as the midsole redirects these vertical impact forces into horizontal forward motion – delivering running economy comparable to that of Ultraboost midsoles in lab conditions.

“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 challenges 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,” explains Sam Handy, vice president design, Adidas running.

“Working closely with Carbin, 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.” 

Complementing the midsole is a new Primeknit upper made from recycled polyester. Historical mapping data has been used to code the Primeknit upper to perfectly align with the unique properties of the 4DFWD midsole, helping to give runners all the support and comfort they need.

Adidas 4DFWD was tested through a range of bio-mechanical testing procedures at the University of Calgary, which analysed specific areas such as forward motion, braking force and running economy. The concept was also tested extensively with Adidas runners local to the creation team in Germany and a carefully selected cohort of high-level running creators across the USA. Cognitive perception testing was carried out at Arizona State University.

“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,” adds Alberto Uncini Manganelli, senior vice president and general manager Adidas running and credibility sports.

The Adidas 4DFWD will drop in three specific colourways, including a special Tokyo Collection drop, which will be the main podium shoe for athletes in Tokyo this summer. Launching first in a black and fluorescent orange colorway, the Adidas 4DFWD will be available to Creators Club members on 15 May, while the Tokyo Collection will be available from 1 July, before a worldwide drop from 12 August.

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