Lubrizol reveals innovative TPU material portfolio for sportswear

Lubrizol, an Ohio-based chemicals and materials company, has announced its new polymer-based material solutions for the footwear market, Estane TRX TPU and BounCell-X.

Displayed for the first time at Chinaplas 2018, the plastics and rubber trade fair in Shanghai, Estane TRX TPU and BounCell-X are designed as sustainable material alternatives providing cushion, outsole and assembly processes for athletic footwear.

The Estane TRX TPU outsoles. Photo via Lubrizol.
The Estane TRX TPU outsoles. Photo via Lubrizol.

Enhancing performance with 3D printable materials

Bridging the gap between flexible rubber and rigid plastics, Lubrizol’s innovative engineered polymer-based solutions are said to elevate athlete performance.

Competing with the traditional thermoset rubber, Estane TRX TPU, created through an improved process of thermoplastic injection molding, are used to produce rubber shoe outsoles that display exceptional wear and slip resistance. As a result of its thinner design,  Estane TRX TPU is more lightweight, which optimizes an athlete’s physical movements.

Additionally,  Estane TRX TPU is transparent which allows colour and design freedom for customers wanting to design new and improved athletic footwear. The 3D printing process also allows performance benefits, such as density, support and cushioning through such process as generative design. Julie Shlepr, Director of Business Development at The Lubrizol Corporation said:

“There’s a strong push to fast-track development to respond to consumer style preferences and to enable customization. We see colour, texture, haptics, structure, cushioning, lightweight and novel fabrication methods as ways to enable this and allow close-to-consumer production,” said 

Furthermore, BounCell-X TPU, a plasticizer-free thermoplastic foam used within the midsole, enhances performance through its resilient footwear cushioning and rebound properties. Additionally, BounCell-X TPU is created using a unique physical foam injection molding technology with nitrogen gas to the durable foam inside the base of the shoe.

“We also have novel fibre technology which brings a new dimension to comfortable stretch and fit, as well as innovative texture and design,” added Shlepr.

Lubrizol enters the additive manufacturing market

Earlier this year, Lubrizol announced its first three Estane thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) range of 3D printer materials for the additive manufacturing market.

This included the Estane ETE (Easy-to-extrude) TPU, Estane 58000 TPU, and the Estane MVT (Moisture Vapor Transmission) TPU, which are soft, flexible to hard, and rigid grades of 3D printable materials.

Prior to this, Lubrizol expanded its TPU manufacturing capacity through a partnership with HP, that enabled access to the HP Open Materials Platform.

In the near future, Lubrizol plans to expand its portfolio with new adhesive and adhesive film technologies that will eliminate the need for solvent-based adhesives in footwear production.

“We don’t measure ourselves ‘against the pack’.  We measure ourselves in terms of how successful our customers are in achieving their goals, winning new consumers and deepening the loyalty of their current consumer base by continually delighting them,” stated Shlepr.

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Featured image shows the Estane TRX TPU outsoles. Photo via Lubrizol.