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Sympatex promises “new chapter” for outdoor footwear

Functional materials developer Sympatex will launch a new footwear technology at Lineapelle in Milan (September 25-27). It has called the new technology Utmospheric.

It is a liner for shoes that will adapt “perfectly” to the shape of the wearer’s foot, Sympatex has said. It is produced by means of a thermal moulding process without seams and creases and without compromising the quality or functionality of the laminate, the company said, with sustainable, polyester-based, high-performance membrane technology from Sympatex as its base.

It went on to suggest that the traditional process for producing liners for waterproof outdoor shoes could be “made redundant” by Utmospheric.

“Shoes of this kind are expected to be waterproof and breathable to ensure that your feet stay dry and comfortable even during strenuous hikes and ascents,” Sympatex explained. “Manufacturing the interior of such a shoe is still a complex manual process. Since the necessary membrane-based functional laminate has until now only been available in two-dimensional form, it takes time and effort to create a three-dimensional foot shape. The cuts and seams required to achieve this inevitably damage the membrane, which means that water impermeability properties then have to be re-created in the final steps by means of tape.”

It said that while this has been an accepted method in the industry until now, Utmospheric, which can be integrated into existing manufacturing processes, offers progress.

“This innovation will open up a completely new chapter in the development of outdoor shoes,” said chief executive, Dr Rüdiger Fox, “as it offers significant improvements both for the manufacturer, on the process side, and for the customer, in terms of added comfort. We were guided by lean principles in our innovation process and simply refused to accept that you first have to perforate and cut up waterproof materials, only to then seal them again by means of complex handicraft.”

The company said it intends to go into full production of Utmospheric by the end of 2019 at the latest.

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