What could the safety shoe of the future be like? According to BASF: comfortable, stable
and safe, fascinating and sustainable.
After announcing major investments in research and development in the footwear sector in July, BASF presented ‘Limitless’, a new virtual shoe concept, in order to highlight the various innovations on materials that the German company is able to offer for the footwear segment. Teaming up with i-generator, a footwear design consulting firm headquartered in Portland, U.S., BASF completely transformed the safety shoe with a bold concept, at the same time setting standards in comfort, design flexibility, lightweight cushioning and durability.
First of all through lace-less designs. Since trips and falls are major causes of workplace accidents, laces are removed already in the design phase to improve workers’ safety. Moreover, a closed, lace-less design offers better protection from spills and allows users to slip in and out of their shoes faster.
To realise the vision of a safety shoe without laces, a knitted upper made from Freeflex® fibre is combined with a protective overlay made from Haptex®, BASF’s premium solvent-free material. Special bands engineered from Freeflex ® add further stability and enhanced abrasion resistance.
BASF’s innovative technologies also enabled the industry’s first transparent toe cap made from Elastollan®. This never-before-seen alternative to a metal toe cap offers completely new design possibilities to the safety footwear industry. It also means a lighter, more agile wearing experience while at the same time fully protected and meeting safety standards. To reduce workers’ fatigue, BASF used Infinergy®, a particle foam that has unique spring and cushioning properties in the heel and the midsole of the shoe. The midsole, in particular, is lightweight with exceptional resilience and durability. In addition, the outsole insert made from Elastollan® provides good grip and abrasion resistance.
“Today, consumers are searching for lighter, sportier looks but at the same time treat comfort and safety as top priority”, said Gerd Manz, Vice President, New Markets
& Business Incubation, Performance Materials. “Although ‘Limitless’ currently exists in virtual form only, we are confident that BASF’s performance materials can usher in new design possibilities and excite safety shoe brands about the potential of the industry.”
About BASF’s Performance Materials division
Materials division encompasses the entire materials know-how of BASF regarding innovative, customised
plastics under one roof. Globally active in four major industry sectors – transportation, construction,
industrial applications and consumer goods – in 2018, the Performance Materials division achieved global
sales of €7.65 billion.