Ever since Adidas acquired Reebok for $3.8 billion, the once prominent shoe brand has struggled for an identity.
Adidas recently has replaced Reebok's NHL apparel deal The brand has since shifted into a fitness oriented brand that has aligned itself with emerging active trends, Crossfit and MMA, and have done quite well in both.
Former NASA rocket scientist Bill McInnis, looks to take Reebok into the Future and back on top of the shoe world with Reebok’s Innovation house, Reebok Future which McInnis is now in charge of.
Liquid Factory is Reebok’s first big push in 3D shoe manufacturing, as it looks to bypass the traditional use of molds to manufacture shoes.
“Molds are very expensive, very time consuming and require a lot of labor,” said McInnis in an interview with Singularity Hub. “To make shoes without molds was our goal with liquid factory and we took a very different approach to 3D printing to do that,” he added.
Reebok’s 3D shoes feature a polyurethane blend similar to that of a superball, to give the shoes incredible bounce.
“The great thing about polyurethane is it's got a myriad of uses, from very firm and responsive skateboard wheels, to very soft and plush memory foam, and anything in between. You can dial that on a case-by-case basis. That's exactly what we want under somebody's foot. Soft, firm, all the same material,” says McInnis.
Similar to Adidas partnership with Parley to make 3D printed shoes from recycled ocean plastic, Reebok has its own environmentally friendly initiative called Cotton and Corn, making shoes with materials entirely derived from corn and cotton.
“They are made from things that grow and they are made from things that decompose,” he added.
Reebok has a unique opportunity to take risks and utilize new technology to once again become a major player and innovator in footwear. Bill McInnis and the Liquid Factory is leading that charge.