Graphene enhanced PU Rubber and TPU Footwear Soles

First Graphene has partnered with Steel Blue, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of industrial safety boots, to create a new generation of products that take worker safety to a new level.

Unlike leisure footwear, industrial boots have to comply with stringent safety legislation. This is designed to ensure the safety of workers in often extreme environments, which might include extremes of temperature, work on abrasive or slippery surfaces, and exposure to hazardous substances such as fuels or chemicals. Safety boots have to balance these requirements with the need for comfort, as workers will often be wearing industrial boots for extended periods.

Steel Blue has a hard-won reputation for premium quality products, combining exceptional safety, durability and comfort. These benefits have been extended in the new generation of safety boots, which have been moulded using conventional polyurethane (PU) midsoles and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) outsoles, in each case blended with our PureGRAPH® graphene products.

The new safety boots have passed extended trails and evaluation. Several hundred pairs of boots have been tested in wear tests. Initial results show that abrasion, measured in weight loss, has been reduced by 50%; tear resistance has been improved by a factor of 9.

For Steel Blue – and its customers – these benefits are significant. Not only can the durability and safety of each boot be improved, it is possible to reduce the weight, which enhances worker comfort and reduces fatigue. It also decreases the quantity of material required; although this is a relatively modest amount per boot, Steel Blue manufactures many thousands of boots every year, so the cumulative effect is considerable, enabling the company to reduce raw material costs and enhance its CSR profile.

Further benefits are also anticipated. In particular, due to the ability of graphene to enhance the mechanical and wear properties of PU, it may enable lower shore hardness outsoles to be used; in turn, this will give greater slip resistance and improved grip in the working environment.

Steel Blue has put in place a supply agreement with First Graphene and is currently planning to gear up production of the world’s first graphene enhanced safety boot in early 2020.

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