Shanghai, March 17, 2015. More than 14 million Germans regularly head for the mountains to go skiing or snowboarding. And winter sport enthusiasts are certainly prepared to pay for their hobby. Every year, Germans spend some €16.4 billion on winter sports equipment and clothing. To make an investment in new boots worthwhile, the Freudenberg Group is working together with its customers on an innovation developed especially for snowboard boots. With Airliner technology, it is possible to produce boots that are breathable and waterproof at the same time. Leading snowboard manufacturers are enthusiastic about this innovation.
Long waits at the lift, low temperatures, little space for the feet to move. There are many reasons why people involved in winter sports have cold feet. However, sweating is still unavoidable. A person's feet have more than 250,000 pores and produce about 6 centiliters of sweat (about three small glasses) every day. If you spend several hours on the piste, this sweat collects in your boots. Cold wet boots tend to spoil people's enjoyment.
Freudenberg has developed an innovative solution – Airliner technology. A nonwoven is combined with a liquid-absorbing powder, or super-absorbent polymer (SAP). This allows the nonwoven to absorb moisture from the feet. The fabric is attached to a Strobel sole – a sole fastened to the shaft of the boot by special Strobel stitching. In combination with a perforated sole, this Airliner becomes a breathable liquid barrier. Any moisture penetrating through the perforated sole is absorbed by the airliner, which stores the liquid and seals the pores. As a result, no further moisture can enter the boot and the wearer's foot is protected. This technology is already being used with considerable success in the Gallus Clima series produced by shoemaker Deichmann.
To improve the wearing comfort of snowboard boots, Freudenberg Performance Materials is currently working on the next Airliner generation – people not only perspire through the soles of their feet. Airliner 2.0 technology features the same mode of operation as the first generation but is softer and more supple. This means that it can also be used in the shaft of the boot, making it much more comfortable to wear. To date, shoemakers have used membranes, but these can only release very small quantities of water vapor. This means that all the moisture collects in the lining, making the boot feel moist and unpleasant.
To solve the problem of slow vapor transfer, the membrane can be laminated with Airliner 2.0. The water vapor is then stored for a short time and gradually released through the membrane. To further improve wearing comfort, Freudenberg also supplies its own membranes (Puratex® BM membranes), which are air-permeable and watertight.
A snowboard instructor is currently the first to benefit from this technology and is testing the snowboard boots with Airliner 2.0 until the end of the season. Afterwards, they will be available to consumers. Then, snowboarders will be able to concentrate on what is most important – enjoying their sport.