Browne is the leader of Freudenberg’s shoe and leather goods business unit. The company’s development of this waterproof technology has allowed it to expand its business into snowboarding shoes and other high performance applications.
The laminate, which is marketed under the Airliner 1.0 brand name has already been used in several European sport shoe brands. The nonwovens/SAP combination allows the nonwoven to absorb moisture from the feet. The liner is attached to a hydrophobic strobel-stitched insole and a hydrophobic cover. This creation sits above the rubber sole and below the insole of the shoe.
“We are making the nonwoven in our U.K. plant,” Brown explained to the audience. “The SAP material is dried and needled into a nonwoven.”
This process allows the resulting substrate to have a resultant pore size depending on the conditions. When the substrate is dry, the pores are large allowing the foot to breathe. As the substrate becomes wet, the pores shink, optimizing absorption and allowing it to remain dry. This creates a waterproof condition in the wet state, Brown explains.
Next up for Freudenberg is Airliner 2.0 technology, which is softer and slicker than its earlier generations, allowing it to offer moisture management in other parts of the shoe, like the tongue or the full lining, Browne said adding that his company has already formed a partnership using this technology in the golf shoe market.
Freudenberg Performance Materials has also been able to target the outdoors sports market with its Comfortemp material, a thermo-regulating nonwoven material with textile sensation that provides high quality and comfort. These intelligent nonwoven materials contain phase change material (PCM) inside a durable microcapsule, allowing them to find use in winter clothing. PCM’s are substances that change their physical state with change in temperature. With Comfortemp, the process will repeat whenever the temperature crosses the preset value, keeping the wearing temperature within a desired range.