The Adidas-owned athletic brand has unveiled plans for its Liquid Factory, where software and robotic machinery will use liquid material to draw shoe components precisely and in 3-D layers.
Reebok will work with AF Group Inc. of Lincoln, R.I., to open the factory there. The idea was developed by the brand’s new Reebok Future team, which is dedicated to coming up with innovative ideas.
The use of the liquid material negates the need for a traditional shoe mold, allowing Reebok to create shoes faster and more efficiently.
“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 … this opens up brand new possibilities both for what we can create, and the speed with which we can create it.”
Robots use the liquid material to create an energy-return outsole, which Reebok says performs better than a typical rubber outsole. It has also designed a fit system that stretches and molds to the foot for a personalized fit.
Reebok has already released a limited run of 300 pairs of the first shoe from the factory, the Reebok Liquid Speed. The running shoe has a single outsole and lacing system for a better fit. The shoes are available at both Reebok.com and FinishLine.com for $190.
The factory is set to officially open in early 2017.
Watch the making of the Reebok Liquid Speed below.