Staying a step ahead in footwear design and comfort
For serious athletes, the difference between first and second place often comes down to the minutiae, such as better technique or the choice of equipment – and that’s where high-performance shoes could help make a difference. Be it advanced cushioning for comfort, or better rebound for speed and responsiveness, Dow continues to push the boundaries for material quality and performance when it comes to high-performance shoes.
We work side-by-side with some of the world’s top footwear manufacturers to help them create high-performance footwear that delivers on every occasion. In addition to athletic performance, we also work to help them improve the sustainability profile of their high-performance footwear – through lowering carbon emissions and supporting recyclability.
Insoles cushion the foot from stress, distributing the body’s weight and supporting the arches. Dow materials offer the excellent durability, resilience and stability needed to help keep athletes light on their feet and protected from injury.
Depending on how stiff and firm—or cushiony and flexible a midsole is, it can improve stability, enhance comfort and help address specific injuries and types of pain. Dow materials contribute a range of characteristics, including light weight with exceptional resilience, durability and softness.
Cradling the heel and arch while securely positioning the foot in place in the shoe, heel counters offer the rearfoot stability runners need to stay on stride even over long distances.
Literally where the rubber hits the road, the outsole of the shoe has to provide the perfect balance of toughness, lightweight, durability and flexibility. Dow foams, resins and other materials work together to offer the right performance properties for the sport and environment—whether that’s on the track, field or court.
The part of the shoe that covers and protects the toes, the toe box has to be both rigid and flexible.
Powering Under Armour’s High-Performance Athletic Shoes
Dow’s unitsole technology helps power the performance of Under Armour’s Flow range of athletic shoes, including the Curry Flow 8 which delivers improved traction and rebound. Utilizing our experience in materials science, Under Armour was able to dial in on energy return, shock absorption and traction to enhance the court feel, cushioning and speed of movement without sacrificing durability. This added durability helps extend the life of the shoe and reduce waste.
The collaboration with Under Armour received an Edison award in 2022—marking it as a pioneering achievement in product and service development, human-centered design, and innovation.
High-performance midsole materials for high-performance footwear
Pushing boundaries further in sports and active lifestyles becoming commonplace means high-performance shoes are seeing rising requirements in flexibility, adhesion, and foaming capabilities. As a result, olefin-based polymers such as ENGAGE™ Polyolefin Elastomers (POEs), including our plant-based ENGAGE™ REN POEs, are often blended with ELVAX™ EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate)-based foams to enhance performance and processing. In addition, INFUSE™ Olefin Block Copolymers (OBCs), ELVALOY™ Copolymers and ENERLYTE™ Polyurethane Elastomers can be added to produce midsoles with greater levels of performance, comfort, and durability.
For over two decades, Dow has been providing the footwear industry with a broad portfolio of advanced polyurethane insole systems, helping sports brands create shoes with characteristics tailored to the needs of high-performance users.
Unitsoles enable new sole structures for enhanced performance
Athletes know that top-of-the-range shoes can deliver a competitive difference in performance. That’s where Dow’s unitsole solutions enable brands such as Under Armour to sustainably produce lightweight footwear that delivers no-compromise performance, while simplifying the production process to deliver lower carbon footprint.
This simplification enables the following benefits:
- Use of less materials and energy during production with the number of manufacturing steps reduced from ten to two
- High productivity and cost savings for manufacturers with over 50% reduction in cycle time to assemble a shoe sole
- Reduced need for stock fitting
It starts with collaboration
Let’s work together to deliver high-performance footwear that is comfortable, innovative and sustainable. Contact us today to discuss how we can improve your footwear applications.