Covestro will unveil material concepts for running and basketball shoes that it has created with Chinese designer Axis Liu at the K 2019 trade fair, which will be held October 16-23 in Düsseldorf, Germany. Both partners collaborated in the design and technical features of the customized concept shoes.

According to Covestro, the shoes satisfy the wishes of athletically active people for a healthy lifestyle, improved performance, and individuality. Various material solutions from Covestro are reportedly worked in the shoes’ design, exemplifying the benefits of each material: INSQIN® water-based polyurethane (PU) textile coatings and adhesives, PU foams, textile fibers and films made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and Maezio™ continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic composites (CFRTPs).

“For me new materials are one of the most powerful driving forces for creative shoe design and for exploring new possibilities,” said Liu. “Therefore, I appreciate the know-how of the experts at Covestro and I will continue to benefit from this in the future.”

For the design of the running shoe, Axis Liu was reportedly inspired by a traditional figure from Chinese arts and craft: a “multilayer carved ball” that has a dynamic structure of several handmade layers. On the running shoe, the structure of the midsole was produced by a 3D printer. Because running shoes are often worn outdoors for several hours at a time, it is particularly important for the upper material to be water resistant and breathable. This functionality is reportedly achieved on the concept running shoes with the use of a special INSQIN coating.

Conventional adhesives based on Dispercoll® U dispersions reportedly join together the individual athletic shoe components securely, easily, and efficiently. This water-based adhesive technology helps conserve energy and resources. It also contributes to making athletic shoe production more sustainable.

During development of the basketball shoe, the designer reportedly drew inspiration from the world of toys and the modular construction often found there. His designs also took into consideration that the feet and bodies of basketball players are strained in different ways than those of runners.

In accordance with the different requirements of both sports, Covestro reports that the individual components of the materials used differ as well. For example, the midsole of the basketball shoe was made using in-mold foaming and contains expanding TPU (ETPU), which provides good shock absorption while featuring particularly high restoring forces. This enhances performance for the jumping and quick acceleration that are common in basketball.

Both shoes use the newly developed Maezio™ carbon fiber-reinforced TPU (CFRTP), which is light but also stiff and torsion resistant. This material combination reportedly offers a high degree of design freedom and a strong aesthetic appeal with unique, unidirectional carbon fiber optics; in addition, it is recyclable.

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