Adidas Group has avoided making more than 1 million physical samples since 2010 by developing 3D images of products for use during the sell-in process, the company reported on its blog.

“All our core factories are trained and now capable of producing high-quality volumes of virtual samples,” read the July 8 blog entry, which was based on an interview with Jay Pollard, SVP adidas brand operations. “Through virtualization, we save resources and money by reducing material waste, transportation and distribution costs. And with fewer samples being flown around the globe, we are also reducing our carbon emissions!”

Adidas began studying the concept in 2004 when it looked at how the auto industry was used CAD files to speed development times and lower costs. It soon found it had to develop its own technologies to capture the complex textures and drape of its apparel and footwear products.

While the focus so far has been on the “sell-in” process, adidas is investigating whether its designers will be able to design in 3D at the very beginning of the creation process.
“We are also bringing virtualization to customers in our retail environment globally, using state-of-the-art touch-screen Virtual Walls where shoppers can select products on a virtual shelf,” wrote Eder.