New Balance’s sixth factory, slated to open in Methuen, MA in 2020 with 60 new employees, will focus on R&D, advanced manufacturing techniques and 3-D printing.
Chairman Jim Davis told the Boston Globe that the $33 million, 80,000-sq.-ft. facility — for which the Boston company is receiving $900,000 in state tax credits and $272,000 in property tax relief — is the “factory of the future.”
New Balance is also launching a U.S.-made 3-D platform with TripleCell performance cushioning. Coming out of the Boston company’s 2017 partnership with Massachusetts-based 3-D print authority Formlabs, a leader in 3-D printing systems, the $185 990 Sport launched June 28 and is made in the company’s Lawrence, MA factory. The next, the $175 FuelCell Echo will be assembled in the U.S. and is slated for a Sept. 15 introduction.
The Formlabs-New Balance partnership has enabled the development of high performance materials, hardware and a manufacturing process for athletic footwear. It includes the creation of a new photopolymer resin called Rebound Resin that was designed to create springy, resilient lattice structures with the durability, reliability and longevity expected from injection-molded thermoplastic.
“This new cutting edge, digitally manufactured technology is now scaling exclusively with New Balance factories in the U.S., further establishing us as a leader in 3-D printing and domestic manufacturing,” said Katherine Petrecca, GM of New Balance’s Innovation Design Studio.
Formlabs says the use of 3-D printing by companies such as New Balance is eliminating the dependence on molds and direct printing for both prototyping and production and enabling development and production cycles to shift from months to hours.