RELEASE: New 3D Knitting techniques for the development of technical and sustainable fabrics for the footwear sector

Alcoy (Alicante), October 26, 2023.

RELEASE: New 3D Knitting techniques for the development of technical and sustainable fabrics for the footwear sector

Alcoy (Alicante), October 26, 2023.-

In recent years, consumer preferences for textile footwear have been leaning towards the upper parts of this type of shoe, mainly due to two different but related phenomena. Firstly, as environmental awareness penetrates societies around the world, the demand for leather shoes decreases considerably, resulting in an increase in the demand for textile-based shoes. Secondly, a pronounced social change focused on well-being and comfort has manifested itself in the growing demand for comfortable footwear. In response, the industry is beginning to focus and dedicate more efforts to the production of knitted shoe cuts, also called “Upper Shoes.”

This concept greatly changes the way shoes are produced, and has a series of advantages at a productive and environmental level compared to conventional manufacturing technologies. Among these advantages is the possibility of knitting in a single piece without the need for seams, having all its outer edges closed and with a high degree of finish, thus omitting pattern-making and cutting processes, and going directly to the assembly of the sole. . The fact of being able to weave with shape will have a direct impact on the generation of textile waste from the cutting process, this being a waste that is generated in large volumes and its management can represent a great inconvenience. Another advantage that this technology provides is the possibility of processing a wide range of textile fibers, from conventional materials to functional and high-performance fibers, either on the entire textile surface, or only in the area desired, allowing large areas to be reached. of application. Versatility in customization is another feature that should be highlighted; Within the same fabric, both flexible and inflexible areas, more or less light areas, or even areas with different textures can be incorporated, all by varying the type of binding. In addition, it is possible to integrate several colors by drawing any type of shape.

Analyzing the potential that this type of technology can offer to the sector, AITEX proposes the TEX4FOOT project with the purpose of giving more value to knitted textiles applicable to the development of technical and safety footwear, and in this way contribute to promoting and promote this type of technology in the industry. This project has the support of the Conselleria d'Economia Sostenible, Sectors Productius, Comerç i Treball of the Generalitat Valenciana, through the IVACE (IMAMCA/2022/6). The objective of the TEX4FOOT project focuses on the development of functional fabrics for use in the footwear sector through 3D Knitting technology, to improve properties such as moisture management, thermal comfort, convenience and resistance. to the cut.

At the level of results, the development of textile structures for cutting footwear from sustainable and functional fibers woven in different types of ligaments stands out, on the one hand, which present a substantial improvement compared to commercial fabrics in terms of comfort. thermal. These structures have been analyzed based on procedures for determining their properties of water vapor permeability, water vapor absorption and their water vapor coefficient. The results obtained show an improvement in water vapor permeability performance compared to a commercial fabric by 80%, and in the water vapor coefficient by 70%.

On the other hand, textile structures with high mechanical resistance have been developed from the use of high-performance fibers with the purpose of being applied in the manufacture of safety footwear uppers. To achieve this, we have focused on improving the fabric's resistance to cutting, studying the behavior of different types of fibers and technical ligaments. To verify the correct functioning of the prototypes, they have been analyzed by determining the resistance to cutting by sharp objects according to the UNE-EN ISO 13997 standard, thus establishing the level of protection according to the values ​​established by said standard. With the TEX4FOOT Security fabric, a cut resistance of 34.3 Newtons has been achieved, corresponding to the maximum level of performance (LEVEL F) set by the standard.

Based on this work and the favorable results of the laboratory tests carried out, AITEX has proceeded to develop two types of final demonstrator, one of them focused on the comfort line, and another for the safety line. The results obtained in the TEX4FOOT project open a new field in the development of textile footwear cuts or “Upper Shoes” applicable in the footwear and safety footwear sector, presenting a series of aspects and advantages over the products that currently exist on the market. .