Using BASF’s new foam Infinergy, adidas has now developed the Energy Boost, a thoroughly new running shoe with unique spring and cushioning properties. (Image Credits: BASF)
The manufacturing and distribution of sports wear is one of the most commercial industries in the world. Footwear is among the more universal items of sports wear reaching a lot of different sports using similar types of sneaker.
Each brand looks for the latest pair of sneakers that can improve performance whilst at the same time improving comfort; what is interesting is the science behind the manufacturing process.
Adidas have developed a running shoe called the ‘Energy Boost’ using BASF’s new foam, Infinergy™.
Consisting of expanded thermoplastic polyurethane, or E-TPU, Infinergy is “manufactured by foaming the starting material, TPU granules,” explains Dr. Uwe Keppeler, material and process developer at BASF. “After pretreatment with pressure and heat, the individual granules measuring up to five millimeters each are blown up like popcorn.”
Giving energy back to the runner through elasticity. (Image Credits: Photos.com)
What happens next is the production of oval foam beads that have tiny gas bubbles inside. “These sealed air cells make the lightweight foam beads very elastic and provide the desired rebound effect. The individual beads can be imagined as being like tiny footballs: The more air they contain, the better they bounce and rebound back,” says BASF research scientist Dr. Frank Prissok.
Each Midsole contains approximately 2,500 of these foam beads, which are then converted by being treated with hot steam; this melts the outer-layer of the beads, which allows them to bond into a stable form.
What does this mean for the runner? Infinergy midsoles would essentially become energy stores for the runner; extreme compression combined with absorbing the shock impact of the foot combined with the lightning rebound elasticity enabling a large amount of energy to be returned to the runner.
“When the foot is pushed off the ground, the force expended is largely returned to the athlete. This results in completely new and improved running behavior. Many runners have told us that the shoe feels like it is almost alive,” explains Gerd Manz, Senior Innovation Director Global Brands at adidas.
Scratching the Surface: Infinergy could be used for producing unpuncturable tires. (Image Credits: Photos.com)
This technology could also go into other types of industries. Infinergy could be used for producing unpuncturable tires or even types of flooring or running tracks. The possibilities of this technology could be endless with running shoes only scratching the surface.