adidas’ Creative Director of Running Explains 4D Innovation



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adidas 4D completely reconsiders how a tennis shoe’s sole is made. The innovative style uses a form of 3D printing called Digital Light Synthesis to create a cushioned, responsive, and light sole system. Although, in theory, the procedure of making a 4D sole disappears intricate than more common sole production technologies such as injection molding, the process is still in some way tough to get your head around.

The innovation itself was produced in collaboration with California-based firm CARBON and initially appeared over two years ago. Originally launched in really minimal amounts, in the last eighteen months the tech has ended up being more widely available thanks, in big part, to the AlphaEdge 4D and the ZX 4000 4D.

Prior to his presentation, we sat down with Convenient to get a deeper insight into the innovation and how it differs from Increase as well as information on the brand’s recycled Loop sneaker.


Can you describe 4D technology in its most simple terms?

Imagine a CT scan or an X-Ray, where you move in and out of layers, that’s actually how it works.

How long does that take?

Each midsole takes about 15 minutes.

How did adidas get in touch with Carbon?

The task occurred when our board member, Eric Liedtke, was investing a lot of time in Silicon Valley and he encountered this business that was taking an actually intriguing method to 3D printing. We ‘d developed 3D printing models prior to but we didn’t understand how to bring them to mass production, so the Carbon innovation let us do that.

Are you dealing with any other projects together?

I’m working on Spring 2021, Fall 2021 and Spring 2022, there are lots more shoes coming and some actually intriguing things.

In the future will you check out more than simply soles?

I think one of the greatest things with 4D is that we desire to provide it to more and more individuals.

What are the most important 4D designs?

Presently, the AlphaEdge 4D is the flagship performance shoe and there’s also a shoe from Originals, the ZX 4000 4D.

What were the main goals for 4D from an efficiency viewpoint?

To equal the efficiency of Boost in an entirely tuned midsole. Now we’re taking it much even more than that because you can tune it so exactly, you can put function where you really require it. You might totally configure it so you can make it softer here, harder here, more propulsive here. With Carbon 4D you can craft cushioning, spring energy, return and propulsion all into one sole. That’s what’s actually amazing about it from an efficiency perspective. You can tune every element.


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Exists a plan to ultimately make bespoke soles for each runner?

The supreme goal is to have actually customized soles, however we’re not quite there.

Does this symbolize a relocation away from Increase?

4D is an alternative that provides a tuned experience. Boost is for the best energy return. We continue to invest in Ultraboost — the Ultraboost20 is releasing in a few weeks. We really believe in Increase however 4D is about tune-ability.

The sole has ended up being a street-level signifier of “cool sneakers,” what is your reaction to this?

It’s funny, I’ve operated in Originals, Football and in Running. For me, the most long-lasting sneakers ever began as high-performance shoes. It has to do with credibility and a real function. I like to think that it matters if you can truly perform in a shoe. I believe that’s the difference between a fashion brand name making sneakers and a sports brand. They work based off insights, the items are made by a group of engineers and researchers and designers. I believe they’re beautiful since of their functionality. They don’t exist to look cool, they exist to work.

It is made from plastic, but how does that fit in with adidas’ general sustainability objectives?

Plastic is a style failure due to the fact that once it’s made it stays there. With 4D, whilst it is a plastic, the 3D production process implies you just make and use what you need, there’s no trimmings or excess.


What’s the story behind the Loop shoe?

The motivation for the Loop shoe is based on our understanding that plastic is a huge problem. We will then take generation 2 back to make generation three.

What’s holding you back from scaling production?

Again, this is the edge of material science, so it’s quite expensive to develop, but every time we make another pair we find out how to reduce the expense, how to make more, and how to do it better and more efficiently. The idea that you simply provide it back to adidas and they recycle it in their supply chain is fantastic.

Learn more about 4D, here

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About Ronnie

Ronald Antonio O'Sullivan OBE (born 5 December 1975) is an English professional snooker player who is widely regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. He has won five World Championships, a record seven Masters titles, and a record seven UK Championships, setting a record total of 19 titles in Triple Crown tournaments. He shares the record for the most ranking titles (36) with Stephen Hendry. His career earnings of over £10 million put him in first place on snooker's all-time prize-money list. Winning the Tour Championship on 24 March 2019 made him the sport's current world number one, the fourth time in his career that he has held the top position and the first time he has been number one since May 2010. This is the longest gap between number one spells by any player in history.