New material applications brought about by the rise of athleisure


In recent years, the influence of athleisure trends has brought in a rise in the business opportunities of the knitted sports shoe market, whether it is Gore-Tex, Sympatex or other famous European and American brands in moisture-permeable waterproof materials. Taiwan’s Lintex Watertight Co., Ltd, Shuang-Bang Industrial Corp. (products bearing the Canadian creative brand Vessi), and other manufacturers of moisture-permeable waterproof materials have also made new progress in the applications of moisture-permeable waterproof materials to outdoor shoes.


The process and raw materials adopted by various manufacturers of moisture-permeable waterproof materials are different. The purpose is to simplify the production process of outdoor waterproof shoes, providing consumers with better wearing comfort and expanding a new application in sports/outdoor shoes under the influence of athleisure trends. The following is a brief introduction of the latest use of foreign GORE-TEX and the material made by the domestic maker, LINTEX, in moisture-permeable waterproof materials.


Product evolution process of GORE-TEX 3D Fit footwear(Source: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, 2018)

American company GORE-TEX : 3D Fit Footwear Technology


GORE-TEX 3D Fit Footwear Technology developed by Gore uses a proprietary PTFE material to produce a sock-like moisture-permeable waterproof product that can be snugly worn on foot to meet the wearer’s comfort, elastic stretch, and waterproof functions (please see Fig. 1). Overall, the advantages of GORE-TEX 3D Fit Footwear Technology include:


Flexibility: Under the influence of athleisure trends, consumers have preferred to wear knitted elastic mesh shoes. GORE-TEX 3D Fit Technology used by knitted shoes allows consumers to wear waterproof and fashionable shoes when they engage in various outdoor activities.


Comfort: GORE-TEX 3D Fit Technology has the advantage to be worn snugly on foot and provide seamless comfort.


Simplified production process: GORE-TEX 3D Fit Technology can help the shoe industry to simplify the production process as Gore can fuse the 3D, waterproof, and elastic features of the footwear lining to effectively integrate the shoe-making process, especially suitable for shoes with a primarily elastic knitted upper.


Gore’s brand partners, including Adidas TERREX series, Salomon custom-made shoes ME:sh, and Under Armour second-generation HOVR Phantom (please see Fig. 2) are all using this technology.


Three brands, Adidas TERREX, Salomon, and Under Armour, have developed products using GORE-TEX 3D Fit Footwear Technology(Source: Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, 2018)

Taiwan LINTEX : PU material can be applied to seamless moisture-permeable waterproof outdoor shoes


Taiwan’s new company, LINTEX, also published “PU adhesive that can be applied to seamless

moisture-permeable waterproof outdoor knitted shoes.” This R&D technology obtained Taiwan invention patent on September 11, 2018, and the invention patent is pending for approval in the US and China.


LINTEX uses the proprietary PU adhesive formula technology to completely wrap the slip-on knitted fabric to achieve elastic stretch and moisture permeability. This 3D slip-on material does not need cutting, sewing, water stop tape, and other procedures as it is integrated with the slip-on knitted fabric. Besides maintaining excellent elasticity, it can also significantly enhance the toughness of the slip-on material.


This technology can be applied to terminal applications such as seamless moisture-permeable waterproof socks, seamless moisture-permeable waterproof shoes lining, high-top moisture-permeable waterproof knitted shoes (please see Fig. 3), etc. Mr. Lin, Ming-Yi, the founder of LINTEX, said: The “high-top knitted shoe topline is usually designed with an elastic opening to wrap up the foot. If a non-elastic moisture-permeable waterproof material is used, it will not allow the sole to be fitted into the shoe smoothly. The moisture-permeable waterproof material developed by our company has the merits of elasticity and stretchability.”


LINTEX has developed a PU material that can be applied to seamless moisture-permeable waterproof outdoor shoes(Source: LINTEX WATERTIGHT Co., Ltd)

The market anticipates more cross-domain innovations


Glancing at the textile products sold in the market in recent years, most of them use the existing technology to carry out innovative cross-domain applications. For example, the Flyknit one-piece knitted sneakers launched by NIKE in 2012 originally used the flat knitting machine for sweater weaving to create a one-piece knitted upper and cater to the market demand of consumers who fancy lightweight and stylish sports shoes. The above case also used existing weaving and moisture-permeable waterproof production technology to form a new application of “waterproof outdoor knitted shoes.”



運動休閒風潮崛起的新材料應用


近年來受Athleisure趨勢而帶動針織運動鞋市場商機崛起之下,不論是Gore-Tex、Sympatex等歐美著名透濕防水薄膜材料品牌,台灣的誠林科技、雙邦實業(應用於加拿大新創品牌Vessi)等透濕防水材料製造商,也各自在透濕防水材料於戶外鞋的應用有新的進展。各家透濕防水材料製造商所採用的製程與原材料各有差異,其目的為簡化戶外防水鞋的生產製程,提供消費者更佳的穿著舒適度,並擴展運動/戶外鞋於Athleisure趨勢下的新應用。以下分別介紹國外GORE-TEX與國內材料廠商誠林科技在透濕防水材料最新應用。


美國公司GORE-TEX:3D Fit Footwear Technology


Gore開發出GORE-TEX 3D Fit Footwear技術,運用專屬PTFE材料開發出宛如襪子般的透濕防水產品,可完全服貼於足部,滿足穿著者舒適、彈性伸展與防水等機能(參見圖1)。整體而言,GORE-TEX 3D Fit Footwear技術的優勢包含:


靈活度:Athleisure趨勢下,消費者偏好穿著針織彈性網眼鞋。而針織鞋運用GORE-TEX 3D Fit技術,可讓消費者從事各項戶外活動時,可穿著防水兼具時尚感的鞋款。


舒適感:GORE-TEX 3D Fit技術具有合腳的特點,能提供seamless般的舒適感。


簡化製造商生產製程:GORE-TEX 3D Fit技術幫助製鞋業簡化生產製程,因為Gore將鞋類內襯的立體、防水、彈性特點融為一體,有效整合製鞋流程,尤其適合主打彈性針織鞋面的鞋子。


Gore的品牌合作夥伴包含adidas的TERREX系列、Salomon的客製鞋款ME:sh、Under Armour的第二代HOVR Phantom等均已採用此技術。


台灣誠林科技:可應用於Seamless透濕防水戶外鞋的PU材料


台灣新創公司誠林科技亦發表「可應用於Seamless透濕防水戶外針織鞋的PU膠」,此研發技術已於2018年9月11日取得台灣發明專利,美國和中國大陸的發明專利也已進入審查階段。


誠林科技採用專有的PU膠配方技術,直接將套型的針織織物完全包覆,達到彈性伸展及透濕防水機能。此立體套型材料無須經過裁剪、車縫、止水貼條等程序,且結合針織套狀織物,除了保有極為良好的彈性,還能大幅提升套狀材料的強韌度。此技術可終端應用於Seamless透濕防水襪套、Seamless透濕防水鞋內襯、高筒透濕防水針織鞋等終端應用。誠林科技創辦人林明儀先生表示:「高筒針織鞋的鞋口,通常設計成彈性束口包覆足部,如果使用無彈性的透濕防水材料,會使腳掌無法順利穿入鞋內,而公司所研發的透濕防水材料具有可彈性伸展的優勢。」


市場期待更多跨領域創新


綜觀近年來市場上大賣的紡織商品,多半是運用現有技術進行跨領域的創新應用。例如:NIKE於2012年所推出的Flyknit一體成型針織運動鞋,其織機即是應用原本用於毛衣織造的自動橫編織機,來構成一體成形之針織鞋面,並迎合消費者想要輕量、時尚運動鞋的市場需求。而上述案例,亦是採用現有織造與透濕防水生產技術,形成「防水戶外針織鞋」的市場新應用。


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