You have to buy a new pair of safety shoes and you would like to know how the production process takes place? Do you know the different types of leather and the methods used to paste the soles to the shoes?
Also in this case knowing more about the techniques used by the specialized producers could be of great help.
How many different types of leather for safety shoes do exist? And what is the difference between the different types? Finally, what are the processes used to produce safety shoes?
In this article I will tell you about the different types of leather and the production techniques for making safety footwear.
We’ll talk about the fabrication methods of safety footwear of the following types:
• Class I (of leather or other non-polymeric materials)
• Design A (shoes), B (ankle boots), C (rangers)
A very important material: leather
Leather is certainly the most important material involved in the production process of safety footwear. It’s obtained from the skin of animals such as calf or pig, and through several production steps it’s turned into a stable, strong and lasting material.
Depending on the type of treatment and on the different methods of production leather can absorb a variable amount of water vapor (that is it can be more or less breathable). It can also be waterproofed through a special technique called “water repellent treatment”.
Types of leather in safety footwear
According to the different uses and on the part of the skin it comes from, one can distinguish different types of leather:
• Full grain leather – it is part of the most outer layer of the skin, the most elastic and breathable of all.
• Printed leather – middle layer of the skin; it looks granular, due to the moulding. It’s very sturdy but less breathable, it’s often used for S2, S3, O2 and O3 products.
• Nubuck leather – the most outer layer of the skin, slightly brushed and with moderate resistance to scratches and hits.
• Suede leather – it’s part of the middle layer of the skin. It has the best durability and the least water resistance. It’s often used for S1, S1P, O1 and O1P products.
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Production process of safety footwear
Cutting of the leather
A hydraulic press cuts the leather with a blade (which is called die). A different die is needed for each piece of the future shoe, and for each size.
The die-cut pieces of leather are later sewn accurately with the aid of big and strong sewing machines.
Bonding and attaching
With a special rivet gun metal hooks and eyelets are attached to the shoe.
The shaping is a very important process, during which the upper of the shoe receives its shape, thanks to the use of a wooden or plastic foot (called a shoetree), after which the sole can be attached to the upper. Obviously for each shoes model there is a specific shoetree, built specifically for it.
Production of the sole
The sole must go through several steps of processing before it can be attached to the other parts of the safety footwear, with the use of a pneumatic press. Right after joining the sole and the upper, the footwear is placed in a cooling chamber.
Removal of the shoetree
At this stage the shoetree, which gave the upper its form, is removed.
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Different production methods of safety shoes
Different production methods are distinguished:
• The sole can be glued (cemented). In this process the upper and the sole are glued together. In this case the sole is fabricated first, with a separate machine. This is the easiest method and it can be applied to all sorts of soles.
• Another process is the injection of polyurethane, in which the sole of polyurethane is created and directly attached to the upper. The upper is placed into a mold (normally made of aluminum or Teflon), then polyurethane is injected into the mold, and when it cools it becomes solid and sticks to the upper. This process fixes together the upper and the sole very firmly.
• The soles can also be sewn, but this methods is being used less and less, for production efficiency reasons.
During the final quality control all shoes receive one final touch and all secondary parts are assembled (like laces, zippers, other types of closures and so on), then the footwear is ready for the packaging.
At this point the safety shoes are ready to be packaged and can undergo the regular security checks.
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What do you think about the several steps of the production of safety shoes and the Safety shoes leather?
Do you have any points to add?
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