INNOVATION FRIDAYS: ASICS Microwave Soles in Seconds

What if you could cook up your shoes in a matter of seconds? Fifteen to be exact? Sport performance brand, ASICS, has co-developed a new technique that’s turning footwear production notions on its head. Instead of waiting weeks, if not months, to manufacture custom sneakers, they are working on creating colourful soles for its footwear to around 15 seconds at the Tayin Research & Development Co., Ltd. As Paul Miles, Senior General Manager, Global Marketing Division, Asics Corporation said, “The introduction of this production technique could offer future footwear fans an innovative fashion fix in the form of customizing their shoes before their very eyes.”

 

 

According to Tayin Research and Development, which has a patent on the process, the midsoles are constructed with foam thermoplastic polyurethanes that exist in pellet form.  The heat from the microwave will then be used to customize the shoes down to their firmness. The technique is still undergoing testing but when complete, it’s estimated to drastically cut down the traditional and lengthy shoe production process. In addition, the baking process in these large microwaves is also said to be quite sustainable. The microwave moulding requires sufficiently less energy than the traditional injection moulding.

[Image: Courtesy of Asics]

In a statement on their website, ‘ASICS estimates that the use of microwave production technology will reduce energy consumption by almost 90% compared to ASICS’ standard techniques. This energy saving in turn moves their production process a little closer to eco-friendly goals and contributions. Not to mention the fact that the process is highly-customizable, meaning that consumers would be specific on exactly what they want the end product to look like. This translates into less wasted inventory making its way to the factory floors.

[Image: Courtesy of Asics]

Once the technology is ready for the masses, Asics explains that customers would be able to take control of parts of the customization process. For starters, they would be able to choose colours incorporated in the midsole and upper.  Because the main material is in pellet form, multiple colours can be selected to create a unique blend to compliment the customer’s personality or vision. Additionally, they aim to have in-store concepts where the process would be demonstrated in various locations and the customers can customize their footwear on-site. Think of it as instant noodles. You’ll walk into a store, pick the colours of the midsole and upper, pop it in and watch it come together and walk out minutes later with your new shoes in hand.

[Image: Courtesy of Asics]
[Image: Courtesy of Asics]
[Image: Courtesy of Asics]
 

When it comes to advancements in sneaker wear, you’re more likely to think of brands such as Nike and Adidas. We’ve already featured Nike’s self-lacing shoes and Adidas’ biodegradable sneakers on the blog. But Asics is debuting a pretty compelling shoe manufacturing process. What sets Asics approach apart it the level of speed and customization they would bring to the table; if everything goes to plan. With only sneak peeks available from Asics, as they put the final touches on their microwaves, we can only wait for the launch to experience this idea. Nevertheless, it’s a captivating perspective to the ever-growing smart wear industry and the customisation game. Who knows, it could even go further than sportswear accessories and into more footwear ranges.

 

[Image: Courtesy of Asics]

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