New 3D Bonding Technology Using Novel Polyurethane Set
Innovative Way of Making Shoes
A new footwear material from Huntsman Polyurethanes, Everberg, Belgium, sits at the heart of an innovative new way of making shoes. The new 3D Bonding Technology requires no stitching and no lasting. The process connects all pieces of a shoe simultaneously, in a few seconds. Spanish company Simplicity Works, Elche, Spain, worked together with Huntsman Polyurethanes and Desma GmbH, Fridingen, Germany.
The new 3D Bonding Technology employs a 3D mold design created by Simplicity Works; a specifically designed, injectable material from Huntsman Polyurethanes; and a Desma injection-molding machine. In the first step, individual upper components are placed into the mold, in slots separated by narrow channels - a bit like putting a puzzle together. A counter mold then presses each piece into place. The network of channels between the upper components is then injected, in a single shot, with the polyurethane. The end result is a shoe upper, held together by a flexible, polyurethane skeleton. Available in different colors, the texture of the bonded polyurethanes lines (or ribways) can be varied meaning designers can select glossy or matt options combined with multiple other, textile-like surface finishes.
Shoes that Behave Like Socks
The method is suitable for creating all kinds of shoes, and is compatible with different synthetic and natural materials. With no seams to stitch, the overall production process is less labor intensive. Material costs are also lower as there are no overlapping areas and much less waste. With no knitting or stitching lines, and no doubling-up of material, shoes have less friction and pressure points, and behave more like a pair of socks. The shoes are also more waterproof as there are no needle holes or permeable seam lines.
Footwear manufacturers can choose to use the 3D Bonding Technology as the main joining technique or combine it with traditional stitching methods for functional or decorative purposes. Simplicity Works holds the patent rights for its technology and engineers designs for customers using CAD software. Once a product has been designed, Simplicity Works develops all the tooling and molds needed for footwear production. This know-how is then transferred to manufacturers complete with machinery and polyurethane specifications determined in cooperation with Huntsman and Desma.
The companies involved hope that the technology has the potential to add value outside of the footwear industry too. The companies are exploring opportunities to use this manufacturing method to make apparel, accessories and even furniture.