Could 3D Printed Shoes Hint at Future Opportunities for Small Businesses?

Shoe manufacturing is getting a makeover, thanks to 3D printing.

Adidas just revealed a new sneaker called the Futurecraft 4D. The shoe’s sole is made using a 3D printing type process — but there’s a twist. Instead of using additive printing methods, Carbon, the company responsible for printing the shoes, uses a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production.

Essentially, this process makes it possible to use 3D printing for mass production since it’s faster and more efficient than the current methods of 3D printing. And that’s what sets Adidas apart from other shoe companies that have started to integrate 3D printing.

Adidas says that it will make 5,000 of the sneakers available in 2017, then aims to produce 100,000 by the end of 2018. If successful, it could then have further implications for Adidas and other companies big and small.

Eric Liedtke, head of global brands for Adidas told Reuters, “Ultimately, we hope to do this in all of our products. So today, it’s a statement. Tomorrow, it’s for everyone.”

The Implications of this 3D Printing Manufacturing Development

For small businesses, this unique process could also lead to more opportunities down the line. 3D printing is already making its mark on a number of industries. But if this new method actually makes it easier to mass produce 3D printed goods, it could change the whole manufacturing process for tons of businesses — including smaller ones.

Image: Adidas

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