For years now, the promise of on-demand athletic shoe manufacturing hasn’t lived up to its hype. While the top brands have presented various interpretations of what a “3D Printed Shoe” would or could look like, little has trickled down to the consumer other than the option to customize colors a la Nike iD.

Needless to say, we’re getting closer to a future of retail that consists of linking personalized data and foot scan technologies for opportunities to manufacture footwear on-demand. From a consumer’s perspective, this creates a completely tailored product. From a manufacturer’s perspective, this can completely disrupt existing supply chains from the inside-out.

With the introduction of their ‘Futurecraft Series’ of footwear designs, Adidas has been openly sharing their developments in innovation and production to bring new ways of making athletic shoes tailored to meet the needs of each individual’s foot. Previously, we’ve seen a 3D printed running shoe midsole based on a carbon copy of an athlete’s footprint – however, the challenge has been in creating uppers that are also suitable for wear and can be manufactured at the point of sale.

In the latest shared production technique in their Futurecraft series, Adidas is introducing the Futurecraft Tailored Fibre thread construction technique. The innovative new manufacturing technology allows for shoe uppers to be constructed based around specific footwear needs; whether it’s support, room, or reinforcement.

“The new prototype is the next development in our obsession to allow athletes to improve through a combination of the craft of shoemaking and cutting-edge technology,” says Adidas. “The machinery used allows for the look and feel of a running shoe to be completely changed with the fibres used in production being tailored around the foot.”

Expect a release of the Futurecraft Series – and perhaps the possibility of a truly on-demand running shoe – later this year.


Simon is a Brooklyn-based industrial designer and Managing Editor of EVD Media. When he finds the time to design, his focus is on helping startups develop branding and design solutions to realize their product design vision. In addition to his work at Nike and various other clients, he is the main reason anything gets done at EvD Media. He once wrestled an Alaskan alligator buzzard to the ground with his bare hands… to rescue Josh.