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Watching your step in the workplace


A+A is regarded as the leading international trade fair for occupational health and safety. The extensive Bayflex® Footwear range of raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience, one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-quality polymeric materials, will be represented at this year’s event in Dusseldorf from 18 to 21 September by the company’s polyurethane systems houses BaySystems BÜFA, BaySystems Italia and BaySystems Iberia. These three companies support customers in the footwear industry in Europe.

Polyurethane materials are among the few materials that meet the strict requirements of the ISO EN standards relating to safety shoes. Features include high tear propagation resistance, dimensional stability and excellent resistance to gasoline, oil and chemicals. Polyester polyurethanes in particular boast a whole host of advantages compared to the rival material rubber.

Thanks to their sealed surface and the porous core underneath, polyurethane ester integral foams are both highly robust and lightweight. For example, shoe manufacturers can use the newly developed Bayflex® Safety Lightweight system to produce safety shoes that are up to 30 percent lighter depending on the sole design. The good damping and flex-crack resistance of polyurethane materials also ensure high shock absorption at the heel and high flexibility at the front of the foot. Safety shoes with these features are such a good fit that wearers hardly notice them even during a long working day.

Another successful application for polyurethanes is a new class of polyester-based materials marked by their high resistance to hydrolysis. This enables the production of very durable soles, which are in particular demand for safety shoes. The system is also available in an electrostatic discharge (ESD) version, which is crucial for safety shoes in the electronics and automotive industries as they conduct the body’s electrostatic charge to the ground and thus also protect electrostatically vulnerable components.

Polyurethane materials enable highly cost-effective footwear production since the soles can be molded directly to the upper. This type of production requires less energy and is less labor-intensive than that deployed in producing safety shoes with rubber soles. Functional elements such as nail-resistant plates and stability-enhancing supports can also be efficiently insert-molded using polyurethane foam systems.

Bayer MaterialScience has been managing its global polyurethane systems business under the umbrella brand of BaySystems® since March 1, 2007. This covers the existing product brands in this segment – including Bayflex® Footwear – and the global network of polyurethane systems houses, which includes the three companies represented at A+A and is currently being expanded further. True to its slogan of ‘customized polyurethanes’, the BaySystems® brand is synonymous with individual service for each and every customer and tailor-made solutions based on the broad Bayer MaterialScience product range. The company’s polyurethane systems houses offer customer-specific product portfolios in their particular regions. By working together they can also accelerate the market launch of polyurethane innovations. They maintain proximity to their customers for development and support and are also close at hand geographically.


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