Chemical manufacturer BASF has opened its first global footwear innovation centre in Taiwan to bring together manufacturers and designers to accelerate the adoption of the latest technologies and materials.
The 7,000 sq ft hub, located within the footwear manufacturing site of its strategic partner Longterm Concept (LTC) in Changhua, comprises threee main zones: design, functional, and creation.
BASF says the space highlights its “revolutionary footwear materials, innovative culture, and the latest footwear manufacturing technologies from LTC to fulfill innovative footwear design needs.”
“Taiwan is Asia’s hub for many footwear manufacturing firms and has a longstanding history with a powerful network of designers,” says Andy Postlethwaite, SVP, Asia Pacific, performance materials, BASF. “Differentiation is the core ingredient needed to win in the footwear industry. We are committed to constantly innovating and co-creating with our customers.
“The Footwear Innovation Center offers footwear customers an immersive and collaborative experience to co-create innovative components, processing, and solutions together. Also, the centre will provide our strategic partners and customers with direct access to advanced technologies and high-performance materials in one place, helping them advance in the footwear market.”
Combining LTC’s latest footwear manufacturing technologies with BASF’s material expertise in footwear, the centre will enable brands to address common operational challenges, optimise manufacturing processes, and improve efficiencies. The new facility will also test and refine material innovations within a shorter timeframe, as well as evaluate concepts on a global scale.
In addition, the centre will house a biomechanics lab, where scientific tests will be conducted to develop new footwear solutions that enhance performance, comfort, and improve athletic performance.
The Design Zone will feature an interactive display area of performance materials and artworks that stimulate footwear design processes, featuring two of BASF’s performance materials, Haptex and Freeflex.
The Functional Zone features a wide range of materials, such as Elastopan, and Polyurethane (PU) solutions that allow vast possibilities of customisation, excellent technical support, and what BASF calls the next level of performance.
While the Creation Zone showcases existing design works to encourage ideation and co-creation of footwear solutions, as well design software, in-house mould-making Computer Numerical Control machines, automated PU injection machines, and upper knitting machines that enable new shoe design possibilities.
“The launch of the footwear innovation centre is a milestone for the footwear industry in Taiwan and Asia, aimed at connecting brands, manufacturers, and designers,” adds Smith Shih, president, Longterm Concept Industry Corp. “This will accelerate the adoption of the latest footwear technologies and materials to serve the industry better.”
BASF has three other footwear development centres, located in Italy, the US and Thailand. The new facility will also complement the product development centre in Chinese Mainland’s Shanghai and Nansha.