Beyond the Label:
“Made in USA”
Beyond the Label: “Made in USA”

Nothing about our factory is typical. Meet the team, and flops, fresh from our NY factory.

The TIDAL factory is the core of who we are. It’s literally where and more importantly why we began. We talk a lot about people, planet and the importance of being an ethical business but how is that all connected? It has to start somewhere. And for us, that begins at the factory. Local production is the key ingredient in building the best possible product from the ground up. Join us as we take you on a factory tour, sharing our industry secrets and introducing you to the people
behind each step in the process.

The Making of 01

A Flip Flop Factory,
Right Here in NY

Fun Factory Facts 02

Five Flop Factory
Facts

Previous Next
A step-by-step guide to how we make the world’s
most comfortable flip flop—and an introduction
to the people who make them.
Molding 03

Step I: Molding

Our soles are produced on the DESMA—a purpose built German shoe making machine (one of only a handful in the country) that works most similarly to a waffle iron. Our renewable formulation comes out of a robotic fountainhead in the form of goo and is precisely divided into 42 molds, each with 8mm of arch support and no-slip treads. From there, it is cooked and expands into a “blown foam”—a material that captures beads of air and actually allows us to posit that our soles are made from 60% air. The key part of the DESMA is achieving the perfect density prior, one that is soft enough for comfort, but also strong enough for support and durability. Finding this balance requires constant attention.

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN: DESMA D-511, Germany
PRESENTED BY: Adam, Production Manager
ALSO OPERATED BY: Siul and Pat

Like a baker must be aware of moisture and temperature, as well as
the variation in their flour—so too Adam, Tidal’s Production Manager
and DESMA guru who starts his day with a density test, depositing a
small sampling into a cup to guarantee the perfect bounce.

The Down Low on
Low Waste

The Down Low on Low Waste The Down Low on Low Waste
When we say TIDAL is “low waste” these trimmings are what we’re talking
about. Luckily, Monmouth Rubber helps us recycle the excess and reduce our
production impact. It is also worth noting that our waste is comparatively much
less simply by virtue of the DESMA. Think: cookie cutter vs. waffle iron
—one leaves a lot more leftover batter… and it’s not ours.
Trimming 04

Step II: Trimming

After being pulled off of the mold, each sole has a few centimeters of excess material. Along the production line it goes, where it is inspected for quality and the excess trimmed. This is a deceptively simple process, handled with an artisanal sense of precision by Production Technician, Maria, who over the years has meticulously refined the art of trimming soles. On the floor she makes it look soothing and rhythmic, despite it being a very technical skill, one that is precise, fast and very easy to mess up if you aren’t an expert.

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN: Colli GP7 Trimming Machine, Italy
PRESENTED BY: Maria, Production Technician

This step looks like something you’d find in a classic shoe factory,
not necessarily in one dedicated to flip flops.
Straps 05

Step III: Strap Making

To make better straps, we started by developing the right machinery. First, we lightly texturize the straps to significantly reduce the break-in period. The second fix was simple: two strap machines. One for the right foot and one for the left. It may not sound that revolutionary, but if you can believe it, it is, because most other flip flop brands make one universal strap for both feet. This is a cost-cutting option that sacrifices your comfort, and we just weren’t willing to compromise. Having an intimate understanding of the BOY machine is crucial to making sure each strap comes out just right. This detail can make all the difference in your comfort.

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN: BOY Machines 35E, Germany
PRESENTED BY: Candida, Production Technician
ALSO OPERATED BY: Siul, Joe, Pat and Adam

When we set out to rethink how flip flops are made,
making better straps was at the top of our list. They were always
a problem—from blisters to breakage.
Washing 06

Step IV: Washing

Traditionally, washing is an integral part in footwear manufacturing because of solvents used during production. These commonly used chemicals require an intensive clean with a machine similar to a dry cleaner. Due to the nature of our materials, we don’t use these solvents and therefore don't require such a deep clean, we simply want to remove any gunk and prime our flops for printing. Developing a custom machine allowed us to cut our water use at the factory by 73% from 2016 to 2017, and our water usage has stayed roughly the same since this reduction. Originally the wash process was 30 minutes, the process now only takes 5 minutes and thus requires significantly less water.

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN: Renegade SO 1081 Parts Washer, Wisconsin
PRESENTED BY: Candida, Production Technician
ALSO OPERATED BY: Siul, Joe, Pat, Maria and Adam

We worked with Renegade, a company who typically makes
washers for automobile parts to develop a custom machine (inspired
by dishwasher utensil racks) to reduce our water usage by 73%.
Printing 07

Step V: Printing

This innovative and mesmerizing printing method is patented by TIDAL. First, approved designs are uploaded and digitized. Then prior to printing, each trimmed sole is coated with a primer to ensure that the designs stay put season after season. There are two digital UV printers, each consisting of a giant flatbed that can print up to 24 pairs at a time within 30 minutes start to finish. Operating most similarly to any at-home printer, ours methodically prints with Greenguard Gold Certified inks (which are also listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability Index) across the surface. With each swipe of the look printer, another layer of colorant is precisely added to the sole. The UV lamp on the printer instantly dries and cures the design!

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN:
Mimaki JFX200-2513, Japan
PRESENTED BY: Pat, Senior Manufacturing Specialist
ALSO OPERATED BY: Siul

While most sandals are screen printed, the engineering team at
Mimaki helped us employ a UV digital process instead. In doing so,
we reduce waste and pollution caused by traditional screen printing,
while also increasing efficiency.
Assembly 08

Step VI: Assembly & Shipment

The final step in making Tidals is to actually assemble them. Serving as the QA checkpoint we use this moment to make sure every flop going out the door is up to our standards. Is all of the trim fully removed? Does the print look just right? Are the right sized straps attached to the corresponding soles? After passing, Tidals are then assembled with a hydraulic foot press, another custom machine in our factory. Here, the strap is firmly embedded into three points on the sole. Each sole has a custom inlay for the strap plug to fit in perfectly just like a puzzle —and most importantly, it will actually stay put. Finally, your Tidals are packaged and sent to UPS’s distribution centers, where all TIDAL orders are shipped, handled with care—and made with love from New York.

MACHINE NAME/ORIGIN: Pneumatic Assembly Press, Custom Made in Italy
PRESENTED BY: Siul, Shift and Logistics Manager
ALSO OPERATED BY: Siul, Jaime, Maria and Candida

“This is where you put all the pieces together… Although many
decisions get made in design, when you actually strap in and finalize
a large amount of flops, you see something that other people may
miss. So that’s what makes it special.” Siul (who can literally operate every machine) shares the importance of assembly.
“The dream behind TIDAL has always been to affect meaningful change through what we know best, footwear. We didn’t want to address just one aspect like materials but also manufacturing, supply chain, how our employees are treated and how our processes impact the environment. In all of this is a commitment to transparency, an acceptance of fallibility and an unending commitment to being better than the day before.”
Tim Gibb, Co-Founder
1% For the Planet

 

We’re an active member of the 1% For The Planet family—Pledging 1% of gross sales to environmental non-profits.