Knitted fabric is treading new paths
You can now see them again on Sundays in the park: the joggers, walkers and strollers. Some are dressed fashionably, others are focused on performance. But they have one thing in common: The shoes must match – not only the outfit, but above all the foot, as well as the type of activity. We all know how good it feels to take off uncomfortable shoes or the great feeling of wearing the right shoe. The trend towards knitwear in sports shoes makes a significant contribution here.
Shoes are our constant companions, no one can imagine life without them. But they are no longer merely functional objects. Modern shoes do much more than take us from A to B. They literally transport us into fashion magazines, onto the winner's podium at the Olympics or help us score the winning goal in the Football World Cup.
The sports shoe in particular has taken a revolutionary step over the past few years, with the idea of making the uppers of the shoe out of knitwear.
What’s special about these products? Instead of making them from individual sections sewn together or glued on the interfaces, the knitted upper can be made from a single layer. This removes potential pressure and friction points. The elasticity gives greater feeling, like when wearing a sock. Technical finesse has given these shoes the stability that has already made them “winning shoes” multiple times over. Another advantage of the technology, not only in competitions, but in the leisure sector too, is the low weight.
While spacer fabrics and knitted fabrics were previously mainly used on traditional sports shoes, produced as sheet fabric on Raschel and circular knitting machines and then cut to size and sewn or glued together, the upper of the knitted sports shoe is now made in a single piece on a flat knitting machine.
Fewer work steps are required and significantly less or even no cutting waste at all is created. This makes the anatomically knit shoe a winner from an environmental perspective too.
Fashionable and functional
There is currently no end to this trend in sight. New procedures and ideas are constantly being developed to meet the demand for comfortable, functional and fashionable shoes.
There’s something for barefoot fans too: As the name suggests, so-called “shoe socks” are produced on converted hosiery machines. 3D-knitted uppers are also produced as a single piece for this purpose and can be formed into the desired shape and attached to any sole. The entire production takes only a few minutes. The flexible process enables a problem-free, quick change in style, model and size. This not only reduces production time and waste to a minimum, but also opens up a wide range of design options: Colors and yarns used can be selected as desired. Patterns such as jacquard, terry, mesh or net can be implemented without problems. In addition to functionality, the fashion aspect also isn’t neglected.
Another concept goes even further. Here, the sole is eliminated completely. To enable effective cutting protection, these “shoe socks” have particularly strong and resistant fibers, such as chemical fibers made from polyethylene. These products are not only produced on sock machines, but also in part on glove machines.
A traditional shoe can be made up of up to 30 individual parts. Knitted shoes are made of just two parts. This is sustainable, but also means that the desired functions have to be incorporated in the correct parts of the shoe through different joining techniques in a targeted way. The demands on the loop-forming components are extremely high in this complex knitting process. The needles and system parts must be reliable and robust. As a proven supplier and development partner, Groz-Beckert therefore offers suitable components for all applications – for all gauges and transfer techniques. This also includes parts used to produce knitted shoes.