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Vacuum-formed shoes are an eco-friendly fit

September 18th, 2014 / By: / Out There

Israeli designer Lou Moria has used a vacuum-forming process to create pairs of plastic shoes that can be produced quickly and inexpensively, and sport their own “packaging,” providing a more eco-friendly option to the way in which shoes are typically sold.

Although there are plenty of cheap shoes in the marketplace, they can still be rather complex to manufacture, and when they are thrown away, pieces of leather, plastic, textiles, metal and glue are more likely to be landfilled. This process uses a single piece of recyclable, rubbery plastic, is made in a few seconds and can be recycled as one piece.

Thermoforming is one of the oldest and most common methods of processing plastic materials. It involves heating a plastic sheet until soft and then draping it over a mold. A vacuum is applied sucking the sheet into the mold. The sheet is then ejected from the mold.

Unlike other thermoplastic forming processes, where powder or resin is the starting point, vacuum forming uses an extruded plastic sheet. With vacuum forming, a secondary process may be required to trim the formed sheet to arrive at the finished part. The trimmed waste can then be reground and recycled. Some “waste” is left as a way to display the shoe; that’s simply peeled away before wearing.