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Polyurethanes used in a wide range of footwear


Mussolente – The extensive Bayflex® range of footwear from Bayer MaterialScience AG will be presented for the first time at the 2007 Simac footwear fair by its polyurethane systems houses BaySystems Italia, BaySystems Iberia and BaySystems BÜFA. These companies have partnered the footwear industry for a long time and been its suppliers in the Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) region, offering their clients an efficient, flexible and made-to-measure service. They meet the exact requirements of this dynamic industry, which has to react quickly and flexibly to new market demands. Since March 1, 2007, these three systems houses and the global systems house network – as well as the complete polyurethane system business of Bayer MaterialScience – have been managed under the global umbrella brand of BaySystems®.

Bayer MaterialScience’s systems houses offer three ranges for the footwear industry – Bayflex® Safety provides the systems used to produce safety footwear, Bayflex® Active those developed to produce sports and leisure footwear, and Bayflex® Fashion a wide range of systems for producing highly fashionable soles and footwear.

These three ranges cover a whole gamut of sole production requirements, including a broad spectrum of densities – from 200 kg/m3 for super lightweight insoles up to 1200 kg/m3 for solid soles with a tread – and a wide range of hardnesses from 20 Shore A for shoe inserts up to 40 Shore D for wood imitations for footwear with a timber look.

One current application is systems for low-density midsoles, which allow weight savings of around 20 to 25 percent over conventional soles yet offer outstanding elasticity and energy absorption – properties that make for comfortable and less tiring walking.

Another successful application of polyurethanes is a new class of polyester-based materials characterized by their high resistance to hydrolysis. This enables the production of soles with a very long service life, which are highly sought after in safety footwear. An electrostatic discharge (ESD) version of the system is also available, which is invaluable for safety footwear in the electronics and automotive industries.

Bayer MaterialScience is also committed to ecology and environmental protection. This is demonstrated by the new ECO-xpand technology, which removes the need to use halogenated blowing agents and tin compounds in formulations for producing polyurethane soles. Another advantage in terms of environmental protection and customer orientation is the Easy Release system, whose special formulation reduces the amount of release agent needed in the mold.

Finally, take the Bayflex® Fashion product line with its broad range of systems for producing inserts and midsoles that adapt perfectly to the shape of the foot and are extremely lightweight, resulting in outstanding comfort for the wearer. The key advantage of these systems is their versatility – the elasticity, hardness and density of the end product can be adapted to meet all manner of requirements.

These systems can be found worldwide in all BaySystems systems houses and can also be geared to specific customer requirements in all countries. Experts from the Nafta and Asia-Pacific regions will also be represented at the Bayer MaterialScience stand to look after customers from these regions.

Bayer MaterialScience’s Global Footwear Competence Center (GFCC) in Shanghai, which was established last year, will provide additional technical support. It will promote the development of innovative materials and coordinate technical service for footwear customers from all over the world.


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