Boston headquartered shoe company Reebok and its materials provider BASF have released new details about its Liquid Factory sneaker 3D printing technology. To further their additive manufacturing ambitions, Reebok recently opened a Rhode Island facility where 3D printed shoes will be made.
A new kind of shoe
Back in 2016, Reebok and BASF teamed up to create its first line of 3D printed shoe. This collaboration, known as the Liquid Factory, released a limited run of 300 shoes with 3D printed outsole, selling at $189.50 a pair, all of which sold out in a matter of hours.
The Liquid Factory takes a modern approach to shoe making, departing from the tried and true method of using a mold. Instead, it applies layer upon layer of special high rebound liquid material, allowing for Rebook to change the designs of their shoes without having to buy costly new molds.
“We provide the material to Reebok that has the required rheology and reactivity to produce a part with no molds,” said Chau Nguyen, Market Segment Manager for Footwear at BASF.
The limited number for the original run was due to the fact that Reebok was borrowing lab time for its first batch. Now with its new Rhode Island based factory, we can expect a full line of 3D printed shoes down the pipeline.
Better, Faster, Stronger
According to Nguyen, these shoes will have a high-rebound outsole, something that couldn’t be done previously with rubber outsoles. This allows for more energy to be conserved with each step.
“We were certainly aware of BASF’s stellar reputation for creating chemistry solutions in general, but what really appealed to us was the way the team attacked creating the appropriate chemistry for a brand-new application in our industry,” Bill McInnis, Head of Future at Reebok, told BASF in an interview. “We knew what we wanted and BASF quickly figured out the best path to get there.”
As we have seen through numerous partnership, 3D printing shoes increasingly finding commercial application. German shoe corporation Adidas and CLIP 3D printer provider Carbon have explored similar ideas with its own brand of Futurecraft shoes. Likewise, other major companies have also delved into the world 3D printed shoe production such as New Balance which has produced 3D printed midsoles and Under Armour which has crafted something similar for its sportswear.
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Feature image shows the black/white model of Reebok’s new 3D printed shoes