Global fitness brand Reebok has introduced Liquid Factory – a new manufacturing innovation that allows the brand to design and create a high performance athletic shoe faster and more efficiently than ever before.
Developed by the Reebok Future team, the Liquid Factory process uses state-of-the-art software and robotics to literally draw shoes in three dimensions. The new technique leverages 3-D drawing, where a proprietary liquid material, created especially for Reebok by BASF, is used to draw shoe components cleanly, precisely and in three-dimensional layers. This proprietary layering technique is used to create totally unique footwear, without the use of traditional molds.
“Footwear manufacturing hasn’t dramatically changed over the last 30 years,” said Bill McInnis, head of future at Reebok. “Every shoe, from every brand is created using molds – an expensive, time-consuming process. With Liquid Factory, we wanted to fundamentally change the way that shoes are made, creating a new method to manufacture shoes without molds. With this new process, we were able to program robots to create the entire shoe outsole, without molds, by drawing in layers with a high-energy liquid material to create the first ever energy-return outsole, which performs dramatically better than a typical rubber outsole. The all new Liquid Factory process is also used to create a unique fit system that stretches and molds around the foot, providing a three dimensional fit.”
The first concept shoe born from this manufacturing process is the Reebok Liquid Speed. Liquid Speed is an energy return-focused running shoe that also brings the outsole and lacing together in one piece for a comprehensive feel and sensory feedback for the entire foot. Reebok is releasing the Liquid Speed with a limited-edition 300-pair production run. Each of the 300 pairs is individually numbered, tagged and boxed. They are available at Reebok.com and FinishLine.com for $189.50.
The Liquid Speed shoe was designed and assembled in the USA and created with a three-way collaboration between Reebok, BASF and RAMPF Group in Wixom, MI. Final assembly for the Liquid Speed shoe took place at Reebok Headquarters in Canton, MA.
In early 2017, Reebok plans to open its own Liquid Factory manufacturing lab in collaboration with AF Group, Inc. of Lincoln, RI.