Expert project for radical reduction of lead times in the shoe development and production proces

Just like the fashion sector, the shoe industry is driven by short collection cycles and enormous pressure in terms of time and cost.

In order to make processes faster and save on labour, two medium-sized German enterprises – KARL MAYER STOLL Textilmaschinenfabrik GmbH and DESMA Schuhmaschinen GmbH – have agreed a cooperation. The two partners are confident that combining their specialisms at every stage of the shoe industry’s global value chain is an opportunity that promises plenty of potential for optimization. “This innovative shoe model provides the perfect example of how we can manufacture complex products with a high degree of efficiency and sustainability, by working together and harmonizing our companies’ process sequences,” says Andreas Schellhammer, Head of Business Unit STOLL at the KARL MAYER Group.

Diversity, efficiency and sustainability
The two partners have developed an integrated a solution that enables innovative shoe models to be manufactured using a highly efficient process. The process starts with the production of seamless, 3D-knitted uppers, which are then hardened in order to activate the functional yarns woven into them, before being attached directly to dual-layer sole constructions.
The advantage of this method is that it reduces lead times in the development and production process and allows the machine settings to be adjusted for optimum product quality without any additional investment. The machine technologies used for the process – STOLL flat weft knitting and DESMA direct sole attachment technology – are already in widespread use in the shoe industry, for both innovative new products and mass production. Most significantly, the new solution reduces the number of time-consuming production steps required, such as making up the uppers and manually joining together uppers and soles made from different components. It is also a sustainable innovation, as the seamless manufacturing technique means there is no scrap or waste, so no resources go to waste. In addition to this, a seamless, 3D-knitted upper is more comfortable to wear as it is shaped to provide the perfect fit. Last but not least, productivity and pioneering design considerations have also been factored perfectly into the process. Thanks to the flat weft knitting machine and efficient sole attachment process, it is now possible to manufacture high-performance footwear with custom designs using industrial processes.

Andreas Schellhammer