The Woodlands, Texas - Alfons Tremml, commercial manager EAME (Europe, Africa, and the Middle East) Footwear at Huntsman, has been examining the role of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) as a soling material and its future in the footwear industry.
According to Tremml, "core benefits" of using TPU compared to other soling materials (leather vulcanised rubber, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) or PU) include the combination of "excellent physical properties, outstanding optic (surface definition) and excellent bonding performance." This, he said, will result in soles with an extended lifespan and improved performance.
Although well established in the safety footwear market, in terms of casual and leisure shoes Tremml made reference to Huntsman's own range of soling materials with the "durability of TPU" but offering a more comfortable sole that is lightweight yet still offered strong abrasion resistance.
In the future, Tremml said, TPU will still be uniquely suitable for certain applications and will remain a key material for achieving specific product characteristics. As technology evolves, however, "TPU does hold the potential to to be used more widely in higher quality footwear application," the Huntsman manager said. (RD)