BASF at Simac: innovation and sustainability

From new lightweight materials with a rebound effect, to footwear that is soft even at extreme temperatures, through to 3D printing and sustainable materials and solutions: BASF’s innovative proposals for the industry at Simac 2022.

Many innovations were presented by BASF at Simac – the international trade fair for footwear machinery and technology – last September. These include a new footwear concept made entirely from the Group’s own materials, shoes that remain soft even at -40 degrees Celsius, as well as new lightweight and high rebound soles for safety footwear, new sustainable solutions, and even a customised 3D climbing shoe.

More energy in your shoes

Lightweight and high rebound coefficient are the essential requirements for a midsole for sports shoes, and in this field BASF is one of the leading suppliers of polyurethane (PU) materials. BASF has transferred knowledge from the sports sector to the safety footwear sector, so that it offers maximum productivity through direct soling processes and full compliance with all safety requirements.

Soft footwear even at extreme temperatures

Thanks to close cooperation with footwear companies, BASF has further improved the performance of Elastopan® polyurethane systems to offer a PU system for winter footwear with exceptional properties: maximum thermal insulation, maintenance of foot temperature and high comfort even at low temperatures, up to 40 degrees below zero. This makes Elastopan® the ideal material for footwear to be worn for winter excursions or, when combined with toe caps, even for working on oil rigs in Alaska.      

High performance and sustainability

BASF presents MADGAMMA – Intertekk Saturn’, a new concept in sports and leisure shoes made entirely from sustainable products. The upper is, in fact, made from the 100% recyclable monofilament fibre Freeflex™ thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), while the removable midsole is made from the Elastopan® N series of naturally derived polyurethane, combined with another removable midsole made from TPU foam, which has a lower density, high energy return and is fully recyclable. 

Footwear Design Contest

Also presented at Simac were the three winning shoes of the Padua Polytechnic Footwear Design Contest, inspired by the lockdown during the pandemic period, when people lived enclosed as if lining bubbles. The young designers thus designed a sole consisting of a transparent layer filled with bubbles, through which the midsole can be seen, while recycled materials derived from waste from the footwear and textile industries were used.

Materials and 3D Printing Solutions 

At SIMAC 2022, Forward AM, the brand of BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, presented an update on 3D printing materials and solutions for the entire footwear design and development process. For the first time, Additive Manufacturing principles were used to design a custom-made climbing shoe in 3D: an innovative technology that not only simplifies shoe assembly, but also shortens the production time required for custom-made footwear. The flexible materials used for Forward AM branded products, such as Ultrasint® TPU01, use BASF’s Elastollan®, which offers customers extensive cross-tech solutions.

Elastollan®, BASF’s thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), is used as a filament by the duro3D paver in the production of individual shoe insoles using 3D printing processes. In sole applications, the material is characterized above all by its excellent vibration damping and resilience. Under heavy use, e.g. when used in sports shoes, it is also the abrasion resistance that makes the sole durable and comfortable to wear. Even with fluctuating temperatures, the insert retains its desired properties.