Partially 3D Printed adidas Futurecraft 4D Shoes Launch Commercially This Week in NYC

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The latest announcement from adidas is both exciting and highly anticipated, since they have been a forerunner (yes, we had to say it!) in using 3D printing technology—and forging ahead into the 4D—for quite some time now. Where to start? From announcing their intentions to begin using 3D printing technology in their factories in 2015, the premium footwear manufacturer has also featured sneakers made from recycled ocean waste with 3D printed prototypes, produced 3D printed limited editions, and more. Their highest-visibility project was announced in April 2017, as adidas announced a partnership with Carbon for scale production of high-performance running shoes.

Now, adidas has finally, officially announced the commercial release of their Futurecraft 4D. The midsoles are made using Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology, using light and oxygen. While their prototype for the new shoes has been out since last spring, and seen on the feet of the Carbon team at events from RAPID to TCT Show, they will be launching the line in New York on January 18th.

Consortium retailers like KITH, Packer, and SNS will participate in marketing the innovative running shoes which offer ‘precisely engineered zones’ for athletes, providing not only comfort and cushioning, but also stability and propulsion.

Adidas is touting their new product as the ‘ultimate running shoe for all,’ created based on 17 years of research and development. Each midsole contains 20,000 struts, with the 4D element coming into play as they can be geared toward the individual and ‘tuned’ to requirements needed at the time.

In the heel, the wearer has the advantage of lattice geometry for cushioning and impact control. The transition zone offers improved transition for heel to toe movement, and the forefoot zone allows the runner to move forward better. The open structure also means better ‘breathability,’ coupled with a primeknit upper for a fit similar to that of a sock. The goal in creating these new shoes was to see that every athlete can perform to their potential, empowered with superior footwear as their greatest tool—next to the power of their own drive, stamina, and discipline.

“FUTURECRAFT 4D demonstrates the potential of Digital Light Synthesis in unlocking a new era in sport performance design. One driven by athlete data and incomparable precision to provide the best for the athletes, enabling them to make a difference in their run,” stated Ben Herath, VP Design for adidas Running. “This innovation changes how we design and free ourselves from limitations of the past. The possibilities of what we can now create with this technology to push the boundaries of performance is truly endless.”

This new shoe, which adidas expects to reshape the footwear industry, is priced at $300, as 3D printing continues to allow for personalization in footwear.

Have you been waiting for this new product to finally come on the market for sale to the public? Find out more about FUTURECRAFT 4D here. They can also be followed on Instagram and Twitter via #futurecraft.

What do you think of this news? Let us know your thoughts; join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com.

[Images: adidas]

Aluminum No Match For 3D Printed Press Brake Dies

If you’re looking for a get-rich-quick scheme, you can scratch “Doing small-scale manufacturing of ultralight aircraft” off your list right now. Turns out there’s no money in it. At least, not enough money that you can outsource production of all the parts. Not even enough to setup a huge shop full of customized machining tools when you realize you have to make the stuff yourself. No, this sounds like one of those “labors of love” we always hear so much about.

So how does one do in-house manufacturing of aircraft with a bare minimum of tools? Well, since you’re reading this on Hackaday you can probably guess that you’ve got to come up with something a bit unorthodox. When [Brian Carpenter] of Rainbow Aviation needed a very specific die to bend a component for their aircraft, he decided to try designing and 3D printing one himself.

Printing a die on the Zortrax M200

He reasoned that since he had made quick and dirty dies out of wood in the past, that a 3D printed one should work for at least a few bends before falling apart. He even planned to use JB Weld to fill in the parts of the printed die which he assumed would start cracking and breaking off after he put it through a few cycles. But even after bending hundreds of parts, wear on the dies appears to be nearly non-existent. As an added bonus, the printed plastic dies don’t mar the aluminum pieces they are bending like the steel dies do.

So what’s the secret to printing a die that can bend hundreds of pieces of aluminum on a 20 ton brake without wearing down? As it turns out…not a whole lot. [Brian] attributes the success of this experiment to designing the die with sufficiently accurate tolerances and having so high of an infill that it may as well be solid plastic.

In fact, the 3D printed die worked out so well that they’ve now expanded the idea to a cheap Harbor Freight brake. Before this tool was going more or less unused as it didn’t have features they needed for the production of their parts, namely a radius die or backstop. But by 3D printing these components [Brian] was able to put the tool back to work.

We’ve previously covered the art and science of bending sheet metal, as well as a homebuilt brake that let’s you do it on a budget even Rainbow Aviation would scoff at. So what are you waiting for? Go build an airplane.

Thanks to [Oahupilot] for the tip.

Asean faces disruptive trends

ELECTRONICS is the largest export of Asean, equivalent to 25 per cent of the region’s goods exports.

According to the Asean Secretariat, the bulk of the world’s consumer electronics comes from the Asean region, and more than 80 per cent of the world’s hard drives are produced in Asean countries.

As such, Asean should be responsive to the latest trends and developments in the global economy to remain competitive.

For instance, the rising labour cost in China may stimulate the growth of the Asean electronics sector. Low labour cost will attract more foreign direct investments (FDIs) from multinational companies to the region.

However, the emergence of automation and robotics may also threaten the manufacturing opportunity in the sector.

ENGINE OF GROWTH

How important is the electronics industry to Asean nations?

Electrical and electronics (E&E) is one of the region’s most important sectors, directly employing more than 2.5 million workers, according to the International Labour Office (ILO). It is also described as a mainstay of the region’s economic growth.

In Singapore, for example, Trade and Industry Minister S. Iswaran says the republic’s electronics manufacturing sector is expected to create 2,100 new jobs for professionals, managers, executives and technicians by 2020.

It also accounts for 4.4 per cent of Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, generating S$90 billion (RM270 billion) in manufacturing output.

According to the Asean Secretariat, Thailand’s electronic assembly bases comprised more than 2,300 companies employing 400,000 workers.

Thus, the country is recognised as a global leader in production of integrated circuits, semiconductors and hard drives. Thailand is also the world’s fourth largest producer of refrigerators and second largest for air-conditioning units.

The Philippines is also a top producer of hard drives and semiconductors. The Asean Secretariat data show that the country is supplying the world with 2.5 million hard drives per month, and also represents 10 per cent of the world’s semiconductor manufacturing services.

Malaysia’s electronics and electrical sector has more than 1,695 companies, with a total investment of US$35.5 billion (RM141.6 billion), which can increase further through investments in research and development (R&D).

Vietnam’s electronics industry is the third largest in Asean and the country is the 12th largest exporter in the world, according to advisory firm Dezan Shira & Associates.

The largest Asean economy, Indonesia, is also an electronic manufacturing hub with more than 250 companies, and has attracted large corporations, according to its Investment Coordinating Board. Myanmar is also set to compete in labour-intensive industries, taking advantage of its low employee costs.

TECHNOLOGY TRENDS

Looking ahead, it is important for Asean members to anchor their policies on technology trends that are likely to transform the E&E sector.

ILO has said robotic automation, 3D printing and the Internet of Things (IoT) will have significant impact on the electronics industry. Policymakers across the region should, therefore, ensure that labour skills are raised so that the sector can take advantage of its growth potentials.

According to ILO, more than 60 per cent of workers in the E&E sector in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam are at risk of being replaced by automation.

Although it is said that people exceed the capabilities of robots in overall assembly, robotic automation is quickly replacing low-skilled tasks like packaging and assembling.

Hence, policymakers across the region should encourage the youth to pursue their education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Doing this will allow Asean members to possess higher-skilled labour.

The impact of robotic automation in the E&E sector must be examined to determine what policies should be implemented.

The Boston Consulting Group noted that there are four groups in the sector that will account for 75 per cent of robotic automation by 2025 — electrical equipment, appliances and components, computers and electronic products, and transport equipment and machinery.

NEED TO STUDY TRENDS

This projection is worthy of study given that some of its members have gained prominence in the said industry groups.

The deployment of 3D printing throughout Asean’s E&E sector is another technology trend.

The adoption of 3D printing should not be a surprise because there are reports that 3D-printed circuits will become commercially available soon, according to ILO.

The challenge for Asean is to increase its human capital investment, considering that the application of this technology requires high-labour skills.

The rise of the IoT is opening up new opportunities for the region.

ILO says IoT is projected to provide significant opportunities for semiconductor companies because this technology will stimulate demand for connectivity, memory and sensors.

IoT is also seen to ramp up the global annual revenue of the semiconductor industry, especially since this technology may help the E&E sector produce innovative products, like IoT integrated consumer devices.

TOWARDS STRONGER SECTOR

For a stronger E&E sector, Asean should include the emerging technology trends, such as 3D printing and IoT, as part of its key areas of cooperation.

Such cooperation should be through investment and capacity building.

Regional investment activities must be devoted to strengthening human capital to acquire high labour skills for high value-added activities.

This will help facilitate the growth of the E&E sector through higher-value activities and technology upgrades.

It is important to underscore that failure to invest in education and skills training might drive FDIs out to other countries.

Capacity-building must also be developed among member states to enhance their electronics skills base. It can be in the form of building Asean centres of excellence in the areas of innovation, product design and R&D.

Collaboration involving technical vocational education and training institutions across the region is also important, apart from information sharing among member states.

The writer is a senior analyst with the Centre for Multilateralism Studies at S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Building a helping hand

Montrose County School Board members got the chance to see how 3D printing machines at Centennial Middle School can be impactful at the first school board meeting of 2018 this week.

Three different models of prosthetic limbs made by middle school students with the help of 3D printers were on display during the assembly.

Centennial eighth-grade student Mattie Embrey, alongside teacher Chris Thompson, showcased these models to the MCSD school board. Embrey explained the importance of the machines to the board as they are key in providing help to those missing limbs.

“It’s truly phenomenal how many great things have come with it so far and how many things are going to come with it in the future,” she said to the board.

What lies ahead for the CTMS students is becoming certified with Enabling the Future to help provide prosthetic limbs to those who need them, Thompson said on Tuesday.

Enabling the Future is a nonprofit organization that distributes such prosthetics.

Thompson said after the three different parts are sent to the Enable chapter to be certified, they can go to help people locally — or even to people on another continent.

The three artificial limbs the Centennial students so far have created can help different people with dissimilar missing limbs.

Embrey explained, with the assistance from the gray model, an individual can bend the wrist to move the fingers.

She added the red and yellow model works like the gray limb, but instead of the wrist, the elbow moves the digits.

Embrey said the blue arm model was made with more rubber to give the joints a more lifelike feel.

Learning how to create these different replicas through 3D printing is beneficial for the students and those who need them, Embrey noted.

“The best thing is it is also almost completely the students (creating the prosthetic limbs),” Embrey said. “So they are also getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity education while also helping other people around the world.”

As the models were passed across the room during the meeting, Montrose County School Board vice president Gayle Johnson expressed her appreciation for the students’ work.

“That really is an exciting opportunity,” Johnson said. “I really enjoyed it.”

The process takes a lot of work on students’ part, Thompson said, adding about eight to 10 students have been certified to 3D print and design.

“You would have to take an introduction to engineering class first, so you learn the design process,” Thompson said. “And we got these mini certifications that you have to earn. So the kids that did the electronics, they would have to go through a soldering class with me and be certified to make that electronics.”

He added to make these different models, it takes a certain amount of meticulous design work.

“They really have to learn to really do things with precision,” Thompson said.

But having that accuracy is key for those prosthetic limbs. As Embrey ended her speech, she noted these models have a chance to go to people needing an artificial body part.

“This project goes to those who really need it and an education to our students,” Embrey said.

Andrew Kiser is the Montrose Daily Press’ education/sports reporter. Follow him on Twitter @andrew_kpress.