Asia dominates the world shoe market. European companies, which generally specialise in high-end products, can compete by adapting new high-technology materials to footwear. The EU-funded NANOFOOT (Materials, components and footwear with enhanced comfort properties based on nanotechnologies) project brought nanotechnology to the industry. The innovations consist of new leather and microfibre materials for shoe uppers and linings, and new polymers for insoles and soles. The developments offer heath, environmental and quality benefits. Team members developed microbe-resistant leathers and microfibres based on various types of nanoparticles or nanofillers. Such innovations helped to control bacterial shoe odour. NANOFOOT also developed water-resistant leathers. New composite polymer materials boast thermal and electrical management properties based on nanoparticles and nanofillers. The developments reduce accumulation of static electricity, improving both comfort and safety. The group also developed new footwear designs incorporating the new materials in combination. The various designs offer thermal comfort, anti-static, comfort fashion, orthopaedic or other applications. The combination of new materials and designs offers water resistance and breathability advantages. Finally, researchers developed new manufacturing processes offering competitive costs. The processes are safe for factory workers and environmentally friendly. The NANOFOOT project has yielded marketable materials, novel designs and sustainable industrial processes. Collectively, the innovations enhance the competitive strength of European businesses.
Shoes, nanotechnologies, water resistance, footwear, NANOFOOT, leather, microfibre