High-tech to the power of three

Hat trick for Adidas with intelligent robot technology, personalised 3D printing and a fibre innovation

Adidas is setting a cracking pace. With a broad spectrum of innovations, the German company keeps pushing out the boundaries of the sports-article world. And Adidas shows that sustainability is by no means the antithesis of high-tech but can also be an integral part of it with the world’s first performance shoe made using Biosteel® fibres, a replication of natural silk developed by the German AMSilk bio-tech company. The advantages: the synthetic fibre made of silk biopolymers identical to natural silk is not only particularly light and, according to the manufacturer, potentially the strongest available natural material available to date but also fully biodegradable in a completely natural process. “Thus, we are moving beyond closed loop and into an infinite loop – or even no loop at all”, says James Carnes, Vice President Strategy Creation bei Adidas.

The German sports-article manufacturer began turning its vision of a holistic high-tech experience for consumers into reality with new personalisation options and the launch of the ‘Futurecraft 3D’ project. After a treadmill analysis in the store, customers receive a shoe tailored to their individual running style. A midsole moulded to the shape of the runner’s foot and made using 3D printing technology meets the person’s support needs exactly and ensures a customised running experience.

Adidas is also branching out in new directions when it comes to manufacturing with automated production called ‘Speedfactory’. In the ‘Speedfactory’, high-performance sports articles are made even faster with the aid of intelligent robot technology. Thanks to automation, production can be moved to where the brand’s consumers are. Thus, Adidas is close to the most important markets and can react flexibly to customer demands at the same time as cutting transport emissions. Together with its strategic partners, Oechsler AG, and the Manz special mechanical-engineering company, the company set-up the pilot factory in the South German town of Ansbach in 2015. Following the sale of the first running shoe made at the ‘Speedfactory’, the ‘Futurecraft M.F.G.’ in 2016, the start of series production and the opening of another ‘Speedfactory’ in Atlanta, USA, is planned for this year. Initially, production will amount to 50,000 shoes. In the medium term, the two companies aim to increase annual production to around half a million shoes per factory.

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