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Hush Puppies Lays Groundwork for Digital Manufacturing

Hush Puppies is getting a 21st-century makeover through the adoption of new digital manufacturing technology.

On Wednesday, the Wolverine World Wide subsidiary announced a partnership with Voxel8 on a new range of midsoles for its comfort shoes, which will launch in 2022. The multi-material performance footwear manufacturer said its robot-run production processes will enable Hush Puppies to update the essential footwear component to provide greater ease of wear and lasting support.

What’s more, Voxel8’s scalable technology boasts shorter lead times for more efficient and sustainable no-tool manufacturing. The company’s ActiveLab system is a turnkey solution for brands, giving them access to the integrated software, precision hardware and advanced materials they need to create parts and pieces for their shoes.

According to co-founding chief technology officer Travis Busbee, Voxel8’s “printed lattice structures with precisely tuned mechanical properties are being used as inserts in midsoles to provide enhanced shock absorption.” What’s more, the inserts have been shown to hold their shock absorption properties after 100,000 cycles of testing, demonstrating four times less reduction in thickness compared to traditional footwear foams, he said.

Hush Puppies will integrate its new digitally manufactured midsoles beginning next year.
Hush Puppies will integrate its new digitally manufactured midsoles beginning next year. Hush Puppies

“Our sustainable and scalable technology transforms how footwear is developed and produced, with shorter design cycle times and no-tooling manufacturing,” Busbee added. “Our software-driven digital manufacturing opens the door to cost effective, customized designs in the future.”

As Voxel8’s technology continues to gain “global commercial traction in casual and athletic footwear,” Hush Puppies and Wolverine more broadly will play a valued role in its journey, said CEO Friedrich von Gottberg said. “We are delighted to support new product innovation at Hush Puppies, ramping up production from our facility in Somerville, Mass. and expanding to Asia for volume production,” he added.

Kate Pinkham, vice president and general manager of Hush Puppies, said the partnership will help the shoe company, known for comfortable styles like slides, sneakers, sandals and galoshes for women, men and kids, to build upon its history of comfort innovation. “The brand invented casual 60-plus years ago,” she said, adding that Hush Puppies hopes to embody a “fresh, innovative approach” to reinventing the casual footwear space for the future.