Hold on there - Did ASICS just leapfrog Adidas by NOT using 3D printing?
There seems to be a bit of a footwear battle underway between the major manufacturers. Earlier this year Adidas partnered with Carbon to develop a system for mass producing 3D printed shoe midsoles. It was a huge deal for Carbon as it provided a way for them to ramp up the production of their machines very rapidly.
The idea was to be able to 3D print midsoles of unusual properties by leveraging 3D printing techniques, and that’s certainly true.
However, I now see that ASICS has come out with a technique that somehow appears to “compete” with Adidas. Here’s how it works:
It’s a microwave process that apparently enables the creation of a custom sole in only seconds. I presume the buyer would select the color mix, just like they might at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and then a sales person zaps the sole into form for sale.
The ASICS process is not 3D printing, and it’s not a midsole either, but in the minds of the public it is “ASICS doing something advanced”, just like Adidas was hoping to achieve with their 3D printing venture.
If these parties - and others - continue in their footwear technology race, we may see the competition drive some interesting innovations in the future. Perhaps we’ll see truly 3D printed custom footwear available in shops worldwide.
Or maybe not.