LUDWIGSHAFEN, Germany—BASF has developed new thermoplastic polyurethane material grades that it claims are optimal for use in the manufacturing of shoe shanks, the stiffening elements between the inner and outer sole of the show. The shanks help the show retain shape and improve comfort, BASF said.
Because the stiffness of the shoe shank is one of its important properties, glass fiber-reinforced polyamide typically is used in its manufacturing. BASF noted that its newly developed TPU-based alternative, Elastollan R, also is glass fiber-reinforced, which helps it retains a similar stiffness while absorbing hardly any moisture.
The company, which introduced its Elastollan series roughly six months ago, noted several benefits to the use of TPU material in the design of a shoe shank. Because Elastollan requires lower injection temperatures, it has a shorter cycle time and stronger cold flexibility, BASF said. The material also demolds easily. These factors, the firm claims, can reduce the processing time by as much as 30 percent, ultimately saving labor costs.
"BASF has been providing a broad range of footwear material solutions for years. This new material helps address rising standards and reduce costs for shank production," Manfred Pawlowski, BASF vice president of consumer and performance materials for the Asia-Pacific, said in an earlier statement. "We are already working closely with shoe brand owners and manufacturers to explore various high-performance footwear applications."
To help with cost-saving throughout the development process, BASF has introduced Ultrasim, a computer-aided engineering tool that assists in the design of highly stressed, lightweight parts.
In addition to use in shoe shanks, BASF said the Elastollan material also would be ideal for use in sports and recreation items such as ski binders.