Developments in robotics and automated machinery may have been the focus of this year’s Desma house fair but polyurethane was the material of choice for its innovative QuadWrap trainer.
Jane Denny reports.
Around 50 exhibitors used the 2014 Desma House Fair to promote innovative applications for polyurethane and developments in processing materials or equipment for shoe manufacturing.
Desma showcased its revolutionary QuadWrap trainer, a new kind of footwear made from two different Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) polyurethane systems.
It was around 2012 that the machinery maker approached Bayer MaterialScience with its idea of creating a shoe. The chemical giant considered its range of thermoplastic polyurethanes before engineering newer grades of existing products for the shoe.
BMS' Baytec is a polyurethane-urea material used to protect wastewater tanks from corrosive compounds and as such, its durability is assured. According to Bayer, a Norwegian fishing boat deck sprayed with Baytec in 1967 was intact and corrosion-free 17 years later. Recently, a new Baytec grade was chosen for the Volvo car hood. According to publicity material produced for the hood, the two-part PU system increases elasticity, which can cushion the impact in the event of a collision.
Bayflex is used in to make interior panels for the automotive market as well as agricultural and construction equipment, according to its technical data sheet.
Because the trainer is produced as a one single part, the process involves no bonding or manual stitching. From start to finish, the entire trainer – minus its necessary laces – is created by four steps on one machine. According to Desma’s technical manager Karsten Stoebener, it can produce a trainer in around three minutes.
At the time of going to press, Soebener said the company had entered into negotiations with big brands for projects with the shoe. Desma is currently working on moulds and running production tests for these projects, Stoebener said.
“QuadWrap samples could find their way onto retail desks as early as next year and when people pick up the shoe, they cannot believe how light it is,” he added.
Current shoe production trends
The production of just one shoe by traditional methods, according to Desma, can involve up to 360 separate processing steps. That can be a labour intensive process, requiring precision in each step, which is not always guaranteed in traditional mass manufacturing methods.
Furthermore, traditional mass manufacturing relies upon a skilled but cost effective workforce explained ceo Christian Decker. Decker was delivering his keynote presentation at the event, which was held in September at the Germany-based company’s site in Achim.