Huntsman Polyurethanes launched new groundbreaking footwear technology at Lineapelle at the end of October. SmartLite is described as the first footwear technology to combine lightweight properties, strong aesthetic possibilities and a high-quality performance. The new technology requires a limited number of processing steps and the results are strong and reliable. Already a million pairs of shoes have been tested and to date no returns have been reported.

Research carried out by Huntsman revealed that consumers are demanding more lightweight and comfortable shoes, highlighted by several of the major sports shoe manufacturers such as Nike who are now spreading out into the casual market. However, any new technology also has to meet changing environmental and consumer legislation. SmartLite therefore is recyclable meaning that any waste or rejected mouldings can be granulated and reused as virgin material.

‘The average person takes 8-10,000 steps a day’, explains Stephane Peysson, global project manager for SmartLite. ‘The key to SmartLite is the performance, lightweight and aesthetic nature of the sole. SmartLite has a density of less than 0.5-0.7g/cm3 and is around 40% lighter than rubber soles and can be combined with other soling materials such as leather.’ SmartLite is easy to bond to leather uppers as it can be bonded with a standard water-based adhesive – no primers or haligination agents are required. It therefore requires less production steps, less chemicals and results in a reliable bond.

Huntsman has also created the SmartLite alliance – a network of partners who Huntsman believes is committed to the same level of innovation and design. Three pilot trials have already been carried out with Next (Italy), Noël (France) and Jercol (Spain), and the alliance is now being extended to include brands such as Ecco, Clarks, Camper and Tod’s.

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