Under Armour opens UA Lighthouse manufacturing/design innovation facility

Under Armour signaled Tuesday that manufacturing “can once again thrive in the US” as the athletic sportswear giant opened a production and design innovation centre called UA Lighthouse in its hometown Baltimore.

The 35,000 sq ft facility in Baltimore’s City Garage houses The Foundery, which provides community access to industrial-grade tools and training, and Main Street, an incubator for early-stage companies with market-ready ideas and products.

In essence, UA Lighthouse will allow the company’s designers and technicians to work side-by-side on testing new products. The space includes high-tech equipment and robotics for 3-D design and body scanning, 3-D printing and creating prototypes and pilot lines for apparel and footwear.

“As Under Armour celebrates 20 years in business, we are more committed than ever to staying ahead of the curve and creating cutting-edge product for athletes around the globe,” said co-founder and CEO Kevin Plank.

“By coupling incredible machinery, technologies and material sourcing under one roof, UA Lighthouse will offer immediacy in manufacturing and will allow us to be more responsive to the needs of athletes in [the] local community. This venture will allow Under Armour to make product better, faster and more efficiently,” he said.

The processes and technology developed in the UA Lighthouse will be shared with its factories and facilities around the world to improve speed-to-market and responsiveness for apparel and footwear, he added.

UA Lighthouse will also act as a springboard for the company’s ‘local-for-local’ vision, where product is to be designed for and made in local markets around the world. The intention, Plank said, is to create tens of thousands of jobs.

Under Armour has partnered with Dow Chemical Co, Huntsman, Lectra, Bemis, Epson, Desma, 3dMD and the University of Maryland’s Engineering Department on the facility.

“Under Armour’s approach to open innovation and collaboration can be seen through our strategic partnerships brought to life within UA Lighthouse,” said Kevin Haley, president of product and innovation for Under Armour.

“In this centre, we will establish new industry standards for design and manufacturing that will elevate our shared supply chain partners worldwide and lead the advancement of product across our company.”