Thermoplastic material in Shoemaking
Thermoplastic materials are polymers that become pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature and solidify upon cooling.
Thermoplastic materials are commonly used in shoemaking for stiffeners. Stiffeners are used in shoes to maintain the shape of the shoe, especially in the toe and heel areas. Shoemakers place them in the process of lasting and if you want to learn more about other steps of shoe making craft, make sure to read this super useful article about shoemaking: How to make shoes.
Here's a brief overview of thermoplastic materials in shoemaking.
Usage of termoplastic material
The primary use of thermoplastic materials in shoemaking is for toe puffs and counters. The toe puff is the stiffener used in the toe box of the shoe, while the counter is used in the heel area. They are situated between upper and lining of a shoe. In these two shoemaking articles you can find is a brief expalnation about this step of making shoes: "How to Make Shoe Toe Puffs? ✅Shoemaking Training", "Use Minimum Nails in Lasting of the Shoe Toe".
Advantages working with termoplastic matrial
1.Shape Retention: Once molded, thermoplastic stiffeners retain their shape, ensuring that the shoe maintains its intended design and structure.
2.Durability: These materials are resistant to moisture and general wear and tear, making them ideal for shoes.
3.Re-moldability: If a mistake is made during the shaping process, the material can be reheated and reshaped.
Types of termoplastic material
1.Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU): This is a versatile type of thermoplastic that's used in various parts of the shoe, including stiffeners.
2.Thermoplastic Rubber (TPR): Often used for outsoles, TPR can also be used for certain types of stiffeners.
Application: The process typically involves heating the thermoplastic material until it becomes pliable, then molding it to the desired shape of the shoe part (like the toe or heel). Once the material cools, it hardens and retains the shape.
To heat this material you can work with industrial phen like we do in "Sneakers Making Course" or with domestic one, if it has high tempreach of heating.
Environmental Considerations: While thermoplastic materials offer many advantages in shoemaking, there are environmental concerns associated with their production and disposal. As a result, some shoemakers are exploring more sustainable alternatives like veggetable tanned leather or methods to reduce the environmental impact.
Thermoplastic materials play an important role in modern shoemaking, especially when it comes to ensuring that shoes retain their shape and structure. However, like all materials, it's essential to weigh their benefits against their environmental impact. If needed, you can substitute this material with vegetable-tanned leather or celastic material, which are also commonly used for the inner reinforcement of shoes.