Dow Powers the Launch of Innovative Proprietary Compounds for Footwear Industry with Developmental Partners
Horgen, Switzerland.- Dow Europe (Dow) today announced the availability of test samples from a portfolio of innovative developmental compounds designed to support molders making parts for the footwear industry.
Dow’s high performance developmental compounds for the manufacture of crosslinked (XL) foamed parts were designed together with A.P.I. S.p.A., an Italy-based company which supports the development and supply of technical solutions for a range of industries. The innovative compounds - based on Dow proprietary polyolefins and chemistries – have been created to offer molders of foamed parts for high end sports shoes, plastic shoes, flip-flops, sandals and walking/snow boots potential for manufacture of lighter weight materials which offer improved comfort combined with better durability, dynamic properties and cost effective manufacturing possibilities compared to alternatives.
Additionally, Dow’s XTD developmental compounds are a proprietary blend of engineering polymers and polyolefins, and were developed alongside GoldenPlast S.p.A., a leading manufacturer of thermoplastic compounds also based in Italy. The XTD range has been designed to offer producers of exterior soles for fashion and sports shoes performance and benefits similar to vulcanized rubber, but with the cost and processing advantages of a thermoplastic. The compounds are offered as part of two product ranges (HP and TU) and in a wide range of hardnesses (55 to 75 Shore A).
“These exciting developments provide a great example of Dow recognizing how consumer demands translate their way back through brand owners before ending up at the molder’s doorway – and how working more closely with our customers to tackle those challenges benefits the entire value chain, something we intend to continue focusing on in the future,” said Antonio Batistini, global marketing manager for the footwear division of Dow Elastomers. “Both relationships also demonstrate the power that can be gained by combining Dow’s innovation, research and development and chemistry expertise with the superb technical and processing capabilities of long-standing industry players such as A.P.I and GoldenPlast.
“Innovating in the interests of industry is where we see Dow playing an increasingly valuable role, whether that be in the creation of patented technology and enforcing such patents in order to protect customers and brand owners, or in the continued search for more sustainable solutions that benefit the planet as well the footwear industry.”
High performance XL compounds have been specifically developed to create: foamed parts with good durability and abrasion resistance at a lower density than incumbents (which can help to improve softness and comfort of the final parts); cost effectiveness through reduced cycle time and scrap generation; an improved rubbery look and feel demanded by consumers and dimensional stability. The developmental compounds also offer reduced thermal shrinkage during transport or storage, as well as good coloring ability, paintability and adherence potential to any substrate. Product development began in July 2009, and testing is already underway at molders supplying some of the world’s best-known shoe brands.
“We believe these new compounds could provide molders currently using Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) the opportunity to target traditional polyurethane strongholds, offering more market potential and enabling them to serve a wider range of brand owners’ needs,” said Lorenzo Brunetti, Vice President, Sales & Marketing at A.P.I. “The materials are processed in the same way as EVA meaning no additional capital investment is required, yet they produce lower density foams with improved dynamic properties and durability, making access to higher end applications possible.”
XTD compounds are designed to provide molders supplying high to medium casual/fashion and multi-functional shoes segments with a lighter weight alternative to traditional thermoplastic engineering polymers, which deliver required properties but can be 30 percent heavier than thermoplastic rubber. The materials also can provide a preferable solution to thermoplastic rubber, which supports weight demands but does not perform as well against criteria such as abrasion resistance, tear strength and mechanical properties.
“Molders currently using thermoplastic engineering polymers will be particularly pleased to hear that the new compounds can be used as a ‘drop-in’ solution in existing equipment and tooling, as only a slight change in processing set-up is required,” explained Gianni Perozzi, Technical Manager at GoldenPlast. “We’ve also worked hard alongside Dow to achieve a material with better processability, which can lead to potential reductions in the amount of raw material required.”
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