Reebok’s Liquid Factory is set to revolutionise shoe manufacturing
Developed by the Reebok Future Team, Reebok Future are set to transform the footwear manufacturing industry with their new 3d printing process for footwear, eradicating the use of moulds which increase the expense of new sneakers.
Their new sophisticated manufacturing software and robotics within their Liquid Factory process effectively ‘draws’ shoes in 3D with a high rebound liquid material, where the outsole of the shoe is then built in layers to not only provide a suitable foundation, but ensures this can then be filled with a high-energy material, providing twice the energy return of traditional rubber outsoles, in comparison with the use of conventional moulds.
Bill MicInnis, Head of Future at Reebok said, “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.”
Since its conception, Reebok have created the Reebok Liquid Speed. The system allows the athletic shoe to be tailored to fit the wearer perfectly, where liquid ‘wings’ are added to either side of the outsole by the machine, which then expsand and stretch to the sides of the shoe, moulding around the individual foot as the wearer laces up, providing a unique, three-dimensional fit.
The liquid speed allows heightened sensory feedback, allowing the user to feel the ground in three dimensions. However, the process will also reduce the time for shoes to be manufactured or redesigned or configured, with the eradication of moulds, allowing for greater freedom in the creation of new products .
Reebok President Matt 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, customization and enhanced product performance to the process of creating footwear - and Liquid Factory is a very exciting development in this area.”
The process has been such a success, a new Liquid Factory manufacturing centre will be launching at the beginning of 2017.
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Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR
Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).
These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack.
“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”
“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”
“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR
- Empower employees productivity and collaboration
- Improve fan engagement and experience
- Improve environment security and IT productivity
- Improve racing operations
Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.
“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”
“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives.
“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.
Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”