Are 3D-Printed Shoes Any Better Than Regular Running Sneakers?

The Adidas Alphaedge 4D is one of the first 3D-printed shoes in the world.

Tech Reviews
3 min read
Are 3D-Printed Shoes Any Better Than Regular Running Sneakers?
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3D-printing technology is growing leaps and bounds with many industries adopting it to make products ranging from cutlery to bionic arms.

As the tech evolves people are finding different ways to implement 3D printing into their manufacturing process and shoemaking company Adidas seems to have stumbled upon an effective way of making shoes using 3D printing.

Dubbed the Aplhaedge 4D, the entire sole of these shoes is 3D printed which as the company claims lends that extra bit to the athletes in terms of fit and comfort.

But priced at Rs 27,999 a pair, are they really any better than regular running shoes? We tried them out to find out.


How Is It Made?

The upper part of the shoe is made of thermoplastic polyurethane which makes it lightweight. The sea-green coloured sole of the shoe is where all the hard work (for the printer that is) went in.

The midsole was digitally engineered by gathering pressure plates and foot scan data from athletes and then feeding the data into a 3D printer to create functionally responsive zones for cushioning, stability and controlled energy in the final product.

The Adidas Alphaedge 4D uses a blend of ultraviolet curable resin and polyurethane in the midsole.
(Photo: The Quint)

The material used in the midsole is a blend of ultraviolet curable resin and polyurethane.

It has been designed using a 3D-printing technology called Carbon Digital Light Synthesis technology. It uses light projection, oxygen-permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to manufacture durable final polymeric products.

The midsole Adidas claims is as durable as rubber and lasts as long.


Does 3D Work?

I used the Alphedge 4D for two weeks and over the course of that period, I used the shoes for running, during workouts and even as casual wear. These are comfortable shoes and the added cushion in the midsole does offer better comfort than most running shoes.

The material of the midsole felt durable and the added Continental rubber outsole adds to the sturdiness of the shoes. Remember Continental? These are the same guys who make road tyres.

The outsole has been made using rubber by Continental, the same company that makes road tyres.
(Photo: The Quint)

This is a premium offering by Adidas and it has tried to make the Alphaedge 4D unique. I really wouldn’t recommend you going for the white colour though if you want to keep it clean. At under 400 grams, it feels comfortable on the feet.


Better than Regular Running Shoes?

The Adidas Aplhaedge 4D is ideal for runners and people who are serious about track and field activities. On paper, it does offer certain superiority thanks to its unique design and the material used but it is not really out of this world!

The Adidas Alphaedge 4D weighs under 400 grams.
(Photo: The Quint)

I tried regular running shoes like the Nike Revolution 5 which costs around Rs 4,000 and even the Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE which cost Rs 14,000 in comparison to the Adidas Alphaedge 4D.

The Under Armour HOVR Phantom SE comes with a Bluetooth chip inside to track fitness.
(Photo: The Quint)

People who are into running as a leisure activity will hardly notice any difference when it comes to comfort which is why I feel the Aplhaedge 4D is only for serious athletes.

Adidas feels these shoes should serve only a limited audience and so it has made only a limited number of units of it.

With the Alphaedge 4D, at Rs 27,999, you’re getting the world’s first 3D-printed shoes, which sort of gives the user bragging rights.

So, is it worth spending almost Rs 28k on? Certainly not. Unless you want to flaunt something unique.

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