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A TPU for every shoe

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 27 April, 2004  (Company News)
Bayer MaterialScience AG has expanded its range of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU) for shoe manufacture. The Desmopan
'These plasticizer- and halogen-free products are aimed at applications in all types of sports and leisure shoes,' says Alexandre Savignani, Head of the Sport&Leisure TPU segment at Bayer MaterialScience.

The new polyether-based aliphatic TPU types are ideal for manufacturing sports shoe soles. They are lightfast and can therefore be produced in bright, fashionable colors. They also combine low density, high elasticity and flexibility, making it possible to produce thinner, lighter soles. A further benefit is their excellent adhesion to the majority of materials from which sports shoes are usually produced. 'This combination of properties means that they represent a new, superior alternative to polyether block amides in this market segment,' states Savignani.

The varieties of Desmopan® with reduced abrasion characteristics were specially designed for injection molding sports shoe soles and toe areas. However, they are also suitable for general shoe applications, for example, as a material for the heels of ladies shoes. The polyester-based TPU varieties are UV-stabilized, resistant to hydrolysis and have hardnesses of 85 Shore A to 53 Shore D. They facilitate cost-effective production with short cycle times, one reason being that the parts produced from them can be removed easily from the mold even with large wall thicknesses. 'One key advantage of these materials is the fact that loss due to abrasion is reduced by up to 30 percent compared to standard grades,' says Savignani.

The new transparent aromatic grades are based on both polyesters and polyethers. These allow the production of transparent molded parts which display no visible clouding even at wall thicknesses of up to six millimeters. 'They offer considerable scope in terms of decorative features and design. For example, they can be used to produce wear-resistant windows for decorative features and company logos even in the highly stressed sole area,' says Savignani. This is where the high abrasion, tear and tear propagation resistance characteristics of TPU really come into their own.

The polyether grades are available in hardnesses of 52 to 65 Shore D. Their outstanding low-temperature impact strength and flexibility at low temperatures make them ideal for manufacturing ski boots and ice skates with a transparent outer shell. 'This gives you an insight into the “inner life“ of the shoe and offers greater freedom for fashionable design,' states Savignani.
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