Lubrizol: TPU solutions for footwear

Lubrizol Engineered Polymers announced that its portfolio of thermoplastic polyurethane for footwear applications is designed to meet the growing demands of footwear producers. The company said that the increasing demands include having the ability to streamline the shoe manufacturing process, producing less material waste and using a more sustainable material option that still meets performance needs.

According to the US Department of the Interior, Americans alone throw away at least 300 million pairs of shoes each year. These shoes end up in landfills, where they can take 30 to 40 years to decompose. Lubrizol said this figure has inspired the company to engineer a portfolio of advanced polymers to provide footwear producers the opportunity to create a nearly 100 % TPU shoe that is recyclable (based on access to a readily available standard recycling programme that supports such materials) without compromising performance.

Justin Park, Lubrizol’s global market segment manager for performance footwear, said: “The advantage of a 100 % TPU shoe is that at the end of the shoe’s wear cycle it can be re-grinded and then reformed into a new shoe, therefore extending the life of the product and material.”

Lubrizol said its TPU portfolio for footwear applications gives producers the opportunity to collaborate with one solution provider for their needs. Another benefit to footwear producers of using the company’s TPU as the prime material for shoe production is having the ability to reuse the scraps, resulting in less unused material during the manufacturing process. The key technologies in the TPU portfolio that can be used to form almost every component of a shoe include:

  • Esdex TPU for upper yarns to keep shoe construction smart and lightweight,
  • BounCell-X a low density, plasticiser-free, recyclable, thermoplastic foam for cushioning,
  • Estane TRX TPU as a functional alternative to rubber outsoles,
  • Pearlthane Eco TPU a bio-based (as certified in accordance with ASTM D-6866) renewable-sourced material,
  • Estane 3D TPU a soft, flexible material that offers design freedom for 3D printed components, and
  • Pearlbond TPU for adhesives assembly that provides flexibility to join a large variety of substrates together.