British brand Inov-8 has teamed up with scientific experts at the University of Manchester to become the first-ever company to use graphene in the makeup of running sneakers.
The company chose to incorporate graphene, the thinnest material on earth, in its footwear, as lab tests have shown that the rubber outsoles of shoes with graphene add more stretch and durability.
“Off-road runners and fitness athletes live at the sporting extreme and need the stickiest outsole grip possible to optimize their performance, be that when running on wet trails or working out in sweaty gyms,” said Michael Price, Inov-8 product and marketing director. “For too long, they have had to compromise this need for grip with the knowledge that such rubber wears down quickly.”
According to Price, the brand’s lightweight G-Series shoes give a combination of traction, stretch and grip thanks to the use of graphite. As Inov-8 notes, Graphene, made from graphite, was originally mined in the Lake District of Northern England more than 450 years ago. Inov-8 uses the same area to mine its graphite.
“Product innovation is the number-one priority for our brand. It’s the only way we can compete against the major sports brands,” said Inov-8 CEO Ian Bailey. “The pioneering collaboration between Inov-8 and the The University of Manchester puts us–and Britain–at the forefront of a graphene sports footwear revolution.”
And, despite being the thinnest material in the world, graphene is also the strongest—coming in 200 times stronger than steel, according to Dr. Aravind Vijayaraghavan, reader in nanomaterials at the University of Manchester. “It’s also extraordinarily flexible, and can be bent, twisted, folded and stretched without incurring any damage,” Vijayaraghavan said.
The construct makes outsoles 50 percent strong, 50 percent more stretch and 50 percent more resistant to wear than the corresponding industry standard rubber, without graphene.
“This is a revolutionary consumer product that will have a huge impact on the sports footwear market,” Vijayaraghavan said.
The brand will start selling the shoe in 2018.