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Few production slots remain for Sympatex’s novel shoe technology

Materials developer Sympatex Technologies has concluded testing on its waterproof inner-shoe Utmospheric and is ready to go into production.

The German company will be offering the remaining pilot production slots to interested partners at Lineapelle leather and footwear show in Milan next month.

Early next year, the first machines will go online, giving brands and manufacturers the chance to include Utmospheric in their 2020/2021 autumn-winter collections.

Sympatex relied on automotive manufacturing experience to develop the highly automated production technology that allows the company to give its laminate a three-dimensional form. Utmospheric is created through a thermal forming process to produce a seamless and crease-free inner booty that adapts to the foot without affecting the quality or functionality of the laminate. 

Sympatex said: “To date, the functional laminate that is required to make shoes waterproof and breathable has only been available in two-dimensional form, which means extensive manual labour is needed to 'design' a three-dimensional foot form that is then integrated into the upper as an inner booty. The unavoidable cutting and stitching inevitably harms the membrane however, so that the waterproofness ultimately has to be reconstructed with the help of tape, a time-consuming step. While this has been a common approach in the shoe industry, these days are finally over. 

“This new approach offers multiple advantages. Elimination of the manual production process reduces both the production time and manual labour. In addition, material savings are incurred by fully eliminating the need for tape, which more than offsets the additional costs for the machines. At the same time, the high degree of automation guarantees reliable waterproofness, thus leading to a product with a consistently higher level of quality that no longer requires time-consuming inspection. 

“End customers will also feel the difference. By eliminating the stitching, wearing comfort is increased. And through the process, the breathability of the laminate is twice as high as comparable materials that have been used to date. Finally, the inherent stretch properties of the Sympatex membrane and the laminate ensure a natural, anatomic fit – regardless of the weather or activity.”

The initial pilot system is limited to between 350,000 and 500,000 pairs of shoes a year.