Heavy lug soles and workwear boots might be a trendy fashion look lately, but to the millions of professionals whose jobs require authentic safety footwear, function always comes first. Chemical company BASF is renowned for its proprietary materials that comprise workwear and safety shoes, and workers across all types of fields owe their safety and comfort to them.
“Our leading position in safety footwear is largely driven by the continuous R&D investments we commit to develop polyurethane safety shoe solutions,” said Mohnish Hasrajani, marketing manager for footwear and digitalization Asia Pacific at BASF Performance Materials Asia Pacific. “Our teams are most excited when they get an opportunity to work with the customers either by solving their problems or co-creating exclusive solutions to support their new product launches.”
Here’s a look at some professions where durability, safety and extended comfort are literally in the job description, and how BASF addresses these challenges.
First Responder/Construction Worker/Farmer: These jobs aren’t just dirty, they can be downright dangerous. Heavy machinery can easily slice a foot not properly protected, and boots must be waterproof and puncture-proof to withstand water, shards of glass and other hazardous materials.
BASF’s 6500 Series respirator is built tough enough to withstand long hours and extreme conditions yet be comfortable to wear. Soft grades are used for cushioning elements, medium hardness grades are suitable for compact or combination soles and hard grades are the best solution for heels and heel tips.
Medical Professional: Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals stand on their feet all day, and discomfort must never be a distraction. BASF’s Elastollan TPU is similarly lightweight yet durable. It’s also versatile, since it can be made softer for cushioning components like insoles or harder for other footwear parts such as soles and heels. One of BASF’s more recent developments is Elastopan, a polyurethane foam that is ideal for midsoles, outsoles and insoles, offering comfort and also resisting abrasion. Elastopan has millions of tiny air bubbles, contributing to its lightweight yet high-performance properties as well as strong durability and comfort.
As an example, Voran SportSafe, the new safety shoe series by Argentina-based brand Maincal, enables safety footwear users to move and work in comfort with all day compression technology. Infinergy® enhances Voran SportSafe with superior responsiveness, comfort and durability.
Snow Equipment Operator: Some jobs require a braving of extreme elements, and boots must not only keep the wearer warm, but also not freeze up and turn rigid in frigid temps. BASF’s Elastopan® Extreme Frost is perfect for high-performance working shoes in extreme weather conditions, offering outstanding durability and flexibility down to -45° C. Elastopan® winter boots also offer insulation and lightness, with a leg that stays flexible, even at -20°C, resulting in a better wear comfort even under extreme weather conditions.
Oil Rigger: BASF’s Elastopan resists abrasion and also hydrolysis, where water causes a breakdown of chemical bonds, but it can be imbued with added resistance for oil and gasoline. In addition, a toe cap is also essential when working around heavy machinery. For safety styles, anti-static agents can be added to Elastollan TPU to prevent an electrical charge buildup in wearers.
Food/Automotive Workers: It can get slippery in the warehouse or on the shop floor. BASF worked with Maincal on its Voran SportSafe to also target its comfort safety shoes for workers in the food, automotive, logistics and other industries. This series used Elastopan within the Ultragrip Sole technology that prevents slips and falls, and the midsole was made of BASF’s Infinergy, an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) that provides strong rebound for comfort and performance.
In another brand partnership, BASF worked with Timberland PRO to infuse the label’s Reaxion safety shoe with its Aerocore Energy System. This solution is comprised of Elastollan in the outsole for traction and Elastopan in the midsole and insole for comfort and support. The Aerocore Energy System is comprised of three layers: the Anti-Fatigue Technology footbed, a foam midsole, and a non-marking outsole. The layers work together to provide superior energy return, comfort and grip. These features lead to an especially versatile work shoe, making the Timberland PRO Reaxion ideal for indoor work such as warehousing and manufacturing, as well as outdoor jobs in construction and other fields.
At the end of the day, function is paramount when it comes to workwear safety, but that doesn’t mean fashion should be non-existent. Elastopan can be made in almost any color or texture, which expands its versatility in product design, making looking good on the job attainable as well.
To learn more about BASF and how it partner with brands on safety footwear, click here.