Designers of athletic equipment have used 3D printing for a number of years; it’s one of the larger markets of this technology. In particular, these designers use lattices to deliver specific mechanical properties to sports equipment. One of the latest examples is the new 4DFWD running shoe by adidas.
For more than four years, adidas has developed 3d printable 4D lattice midsole technology in partnership with Carbon. Combining athlete data and Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis technology, the company has produced precision-tuned 3D printed midsoles. adidas 4D footwear is considered to be among the first in the world to use this cutting-edge technology that offers the ability to fine-tune midsoles to specific patterns of movement so that athletes can enjoy precise performance with every step.
Identified from one of five million possible lattice structures and made of 39% bio-based material, the bowtie-shaped FWD CELL was 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 on average 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.
adidas 4DFWD was tested through a range of bio-mechanical testing procedures at the University of Calgary, which analyzed specific areas such as forward motion, braking force and running economy. The concept was also tested extensively with adidas runners across the world via a local development team in Germany and a carefully selected cohort of high-level running creators across the USA. Furthermore, cutting-edge cognitive perception testing was carried out at Arizona State University.
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.”