Canton, Massachusetts – Fitness products manufacturer Reebok, part of Adidas, has introduced its Liquid Factory concept that combines software, robotics and 3D printing for production of running shoes.
Developed by the company’s ‘future team’, the liquid factory process uses software and robotics to draw shoes in 3D. It then uses a proprietary liquid material, created especially for Reebok by BASF, to draw shoe componentry in three-dimensional layers.
The layering technique creates “totally unique footwear”, without the use of traditional moulds, said Reebok in a statement 26 Oct.
The “next-generation” footwear manufacturing, according to bill McInnis, head of future at Reebok, will allow the fitness brand to design and create a high performance athletic shoe faster and more efficiently.
"With this new process, we were able to programme robots to create the entire shoe outsole, without moulds,” said McInnis.
The first concept shoe born from this manufacturing process is theReebok Liquid Speed. The product was designed and assembled in the US and created with a three-way collaboration between Reebok, BASF and RAMPF Group in Wixom, Michigan.
Final assembly for the Liquid Speed shoe took place at Reebok headquarters in Canton, Massachusetts.
In early 2017, Reebok plans to open its own Liquid Factory manufacturing lab in collaboration with AF Group, Inc. of Lincoln, Rhode Island.
The development comes hot on the heels of parent company Adidas’ announcement of plans to expand its Speed Factory automated production programme in Germany and the US.