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Novel Cushioning System Made of VESTAMID Soft Foam for Safety Shoes

Safe, comfortable, and stylish. This is how BIG Arbeitsschutz GmbH believes footwear for the workplace should be. The activeBumper cushioning system developed using VESTAMID® PEBA has raised the bar setting a new standard for safety shoes.

Safety shoes are usually worn all day and every day. A common aspect of the safety shoe across models is the toe cap – that protective area at the front of a shoe made from metal or plastic to protect the toes. Usually, safety shoes are made using decades-old technology, which gives that recognizable clunky look. Even worse, they are often heavy and not particularly comfortable. This was the focus for BIG, a company founded in 1983.

“We wanted to bring innovation to the safety shoe market,” said Lothar Merk, product developer, BIG. “Shouldn’t shoes that protect us at work also provide optimum support for our feet and be comfortable?”

For safety shoes, this combination is not easy; Merk and his colleagues are always on the lookout for the latest technologies and design ideas that they can integrate into RUNNEX® safety shoes – BIG‘s brand name.

Merk stumbled across a promising new technology in early 2020. He wanted to use a lightweight, cushioning foam in the latest line of safety footwear to protect workers from daily wear and tear on their joints as much as athletes.

“Factory workers need to walk miles, stand all day, climb scaffolding, and, and, and. They are athletes that perform at peak-level every day. But this performance isn’t done in sport shoes, they wear heavy safety shoes,” added Merk. “Shoes with cushioning foams provide an additional function. They provide support and comfort to the wearer by returning the impact energy normally absorbed by the shoe back to the wearer.”

Merk found what he was looking for while reading a magazine for runners. The magazine had published an overview of companies that produce materials for soles in sports shoes. Evonik was among them. The specialty chemicals company has been developing plastics for athletic shoes for about 50 years, always in close cooperation with customers and in tune with the latest trends and requirements of the sports industry.

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