Through the exploration of how organic cell structures grow, footwear manufacturer adidas has created a design process for athletic shoe uppers based on biomimicry and how the human body moves. Its new FORGEFIBER, a process using TPU-coated yarn, aims to maximize performance when stitched and compressed at various angles and layers for strength in motion.
The company’s Future team focused on the different ways TPU yarn interacts with other materials to increase its strength value and allow for fewer materials to be used. Various stitching patterns, heat and compression were critical to the process of balancing efficiency, sustainability and the athlete’s needs, the company says.
FORGEFIBER concentrates on the personalization of stretch and reinforcement. The technology may allow shoes to be customized for fit and flexibility, taking into account not just the sport, but the size of the athlete.
For example, the FORGEFIBER upper for a runner would provide enhanced lockdown and stability, from push-off to touchdown. Jason McGinnity, a designer for Future at adidas, explains. “Running is more about linear movement, [yet] for basketball we want to be much more prescriptive in certain areas of the shoe, like on the lateral for heavy cutting. We can change the density of the stitching to create these high levels of strength, specifically where we need it.”
In a company video and recent interview with Core 77, McGinnity gave some specifics about process. A certain level of strength can be rendered using the same stitch structures with a conventional thread, but by using the TPU-coated yarn and applying heat with a specific amount of pressure, the company was able to fuse the structure into the base material and create integrated reinforcement in a way not achieved before.