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Shoe manufacturing is perhaps not an area that is naturally associated with groundbreaking innovation, but it is perhaps time to recalibrate those assumptions.

Earlier this year, for instance, Feetz was launched with the aim of applying 3D printing technology to the manufacture of footwear. The startup allow customers to design their own shoes and manage the manufacturing process via a smartphone app. It’s probably fair to say that the designs on offer are a little rough and ready, but the potential is evident as the process becomes fine-tuned.

A more immediate innovation is likely to emerge from a partnership between NCUB member Loughborough University and the structural component company Texon.
World leading expertise

The partnership is building on the leading expertise the university has in advanced materials and process technology and Texon’s knowledge of product development to hopefully deliver game changing innovation to the shoe industry.

The university is looking to Texon to improve and enhance the manufacturing processes currently employed in shoe factories around the world. The hope is that the partnership will develop from this initial collaboration to explore further links in the footwear process, such as the development of smart trainers that come with inbuilt wearable technology, and of course, building on the work of Feetz in additive manufacturing.

“The footwear industry is highly competitive, with emphasis increasingly being placed on quality, sustainability, efficiency and value. Our research project with Texon has the potential to deliver value added innovations in both the materials and manufacturing technology, as well as extra benefits for the consumer too,” Professor Bala Vaidhyanathan from Loughborough says.

Texon were equally enthusiastic about the huge potential of their partnership with Loughborough.
“Our relationship with Loughborough University is producing exciting results in advanced structural solutions and we believe it has the potential to make a significant impact on the industry,” the company say.