30 Jan Adidas Speedfactories Will 3D Print Shoes
Over the months Adidas has come up numerous times when talking about the 3D printed shoes industry. They are recognized as a company who is not afraid to push boundaries. By exploring the technology behind 3D printing and partnering with companies like Parley, Adidas has helped change the manufacturing industry. As mentioned before, Adidas plans to open their “Speedfactories” in Germany and the United States. These factories will be the sites of many new manufacturing processes, including 3D printing, computerized knitting, and robotic cutting. The companies’ goal is to open doors for a new approach to footwear manufacturing.
The sport shoe industry is currently worth $80 billion a year, and has outsourced its manufacturing to countries such as China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Outsourcing isn’t the only reason Adidas has made the step towards more technological and local production. However, as the company explains that shorter production times and more simplified supply chains are needed in order to keep up with consumer demand. Using current methods a shoe can take up to 18 months before ending up on a store shelf. Considering the fact many running shoes only end up selling for part of the year, the approach is not efficient. According to Adidas, the production cycle could even be as short as one day once the design is finalized.
Many details about the Speedfactory is still being kept under wraps, but Adidas has suggested that the manufacturing process will include making parts for the shoes using a variety of raw materials. With the increase of automated technologies the question of labor and employment will be close behind. Although Speedfactories will not employ as many manual laborers as other factories, but each will open up about 160 new positions for highly skilled workers. We will also most likely see companies like 3DShoes, Nike, and New Balance jump onto similar ideas, which will open up even more jobs. Adidas is expected to open its Ansbach Speedfactory by mid-2017, and construction on the second one in the United States is already underway.