NEWS

Fill & Adidas

Infinitely innovative

An attempt to change a system.

Highly individualized small series and decentralized production combined with sustainable processes and materials – the Infinity Project from Adidas.

The swift availability of individualized sports goods made from sustainable materials is the holy grail of the sports industry. It is the combination of three long-term trends that are currently changing the market. "Sport Infinity" is a collaborative project sponsored by the European Union and directed by Adidas with the objective of representing these requirements in a production process. Alongside Adidas, the working group consists of nine experts with expertise in the fields of product design, materials development, manufacturing, recycling, and sales.

One of the key players: Fill. And responsible for the project: Heinz Hohensinner – inventor, innovator, and sportsman.

"For me, sport is more than just exercise, competition, and fun. I am proud that Fill is part of the research project and that I am able to contribute my expertise and knowledge to the project. I think it's very important and forward-looking to ensure that sports goods are produced in a resource-conserving manner, and I find the developments in this area extremely interesting."

Heinz Hohensinner, Project Manager Application Engineering and Process Development

One of the major challenges faced by the project was the poor environmental balance of footwear. It consists of numerous different materials, which are also firmly bonded together. This makes recycling virtually impossible. So, at the end of their short product lifecycle, they land up in the trash. However, the common vision of the project team is to identify and develop recyclable, textile-reinforced composite materials made from waste products. Old sports goods should not be discarded but, rather, chopped up and reprocessed to make a new product.

To produce shoes using only one suitable material, a 3D "super material", and simultaneously enabling new design and individuality, made the whole project very exciting and the requirements very wide-ranging.

Process developer Heinz Hohensinner understands exactly which operations are necessary to process suitable materials for sports goods. And, as an ambitious athlete, he also knows which materials are suitable for sports. With this knowledge and under strictest secrecy, the Fill team built a prototype in close collaboration and consultation with the Infinity Project consortium in our production shop in Gurten.

In the course of three years' intensive development work, a highly flexible, innovative manufacturing unit was created which met all the requirements. The spacious Future Zone digitalization center at Fill, equipped with the very latest technology, provided the perfect place for an innovation project of this size.

Fill is an innovative technology partner for Adidas. Fill pursues a future-oriented philosophy and focuses on sustainability and globality. The state-of-the-art Future Zone with its futuristic production halls is a place that offers optimal conditions for new developments.

Hans-Peter Nürnberg, Director Technology Innovation at Adidas

Of course, this was only the first step – a proof of concept. But the results of the Sport Infinity project constitute the basis for the common goal of enabling highly automated, decentralized, sustainable production of sports goods.

"My dream is to see Fill machines in huge production halls in the future, being used to manufacture various sports goods in large-scale production. Visualizing this objective repeatedly gives me courage to strike new paths in development and to try out different options."

Heinz Hohensinner, Project Manager Application Engineering and Process Development

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