Future footwear

25.10.2016 Material Futures : Reebok : Automation
The Liquid Factory by Reebok, US

US – Reebok has developed new software and robotics to create footwear three-dimensionally without the need for moulds.

  • The Liquid Factory uses a specially designed liquid material that enables robots to ‘draw’ the sole and framework for the shoes
  • The urethane-based liquid material makes the Reebok Liquid Speed trainers the first shoe with energy return

The project, led by Bill McInnis, head of future at Reebok and a former Nasa engineer, allows the sportswear brand to realise its designs more quickly and cost-effectively than traditional production methods.

The high-rebound material, developed by sustainably minded chemical manufacturer BASF, encloses the shoe in a mesh-like structure designed to both absorb shock and provide energy return.

The process was inspired by the disruptive nature of the automotive industry, in particular Tesla, which has become renowned for its development of technological innovation.

‘With Liquid Factory, we wanted to fundamentally change the way that shoes are made,’ McInnis said in a statement. ‘We’re looking at how we can bring speed, customisation and enhanced product performance to the process of creating footwear.’

The Big Picture

Advances in technology are seeing sportswear brands such as Reebok and adidas speed up their production methods in order to create a closer connection to the consumer market.

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