Reebok Liquid Speed
Reebok's first shoe, the Liquid Speed, born from the new additive manufacturing process
Global fitness brand, Reebok, have introduced a new manufacturing innovation that could significantly alter the process and speed of footwear creation.
The modernised process has been dubbed ‘Liquid Factory’ and has been develop by the Reebok Future team. Using state-of-the-art software and robotics, their footwear will be literally drawn in three dimensions. A proprietary liquid material, made especially for Reebok by BASF, is used to draw the components of the shoe cleanly and precisely, creating totally unique footwear without the use of traditional moulds.
This new generation of footwear manufacturing allows for the creation of high performance athletic shoes in a more efficient manner.
“Footwear manufacturing hasn’t dramatically changed over the last 30 years.” Bill McInnis, head of Future at Reebok said. “Every shoe, from every brand is created using moulds – 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 moulds. This opens up brand new possibilities both for what we can create, and the speed with which we can create it.
“With this new process, we were able to program robots to create the entire shoe outside, 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 moulds around the foot, providing a three-dimensional fit.”
The first of Reebok’s shoes born from this new manufacturing process, the Reebok Liquid Speed, are available online now. Liquid Speed is an energy return-focused running shoe, bringing the outsole and lacing together in one piece. This allows 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.
Early next year, Reebok plans to open its own Liquid Factory manufacturing lab in collaboration with AF Group Inc. of Lincoln, RI.
“One of the most exciting things about the Liquid Factory is the speed.” McInnis added. “We can create and customise the design of shoes in real time, because we’re not using moulds – we’re simply programming a machine. Liquid Factory is not just a new way of making things, it’s a new speed of making things.”
The Reebok Future team is Reebok’s brand new innovation department dedicated to creating new technologies, ideas, techniques and prototypes. Matt O’Toole, Reebok President, is proud of his company’s desire to continuously modernise the footwear industry.
“Reebok has a long history of innovation and our commitment to looking outside our industry to drive this forward is a big part of that.” O’Toole said. “The Reebok Future team was created to innovate not only the products we make, but also the process by which we make them.
“We’re looking at how we can bring speed, customisation and enhanced product performance to the process of creating footwear – and Liquid Factory is a very exciting development in this area.”