The future Opportunities for E-TPU Popcorn Material
Adidas pioneered the application of E-TPU Popcorn
After opening the shoe material market, the future opportunities for E-TPU “popcorn” lie in its unique properties. E-TPU, the world’s first foamed thermoplastic polyurethane, was developed by BASF in 2007. Since its inception, it has been recognized as a “magical particle” by the industry.
E-TPU is non-toxic, odorless, and biodegradable, making it more environmentally friendly. It also possesses high strength, heat resistance, and abrasion resistance. Additionally, it is lightweight, comfortable, has high resilience, provides shock absorption, is antibacterial, and breathable. Its foaming power can reach up to 10 times.
However, since its invention in 2007, E-TPU has not been widely used in the market.
After a long period of silence, Adidas finally applied E-TPU to sports shoes in 2013. Adidas used BASF’s E-TPU material to develop the revolutionary running shoe Energy Boost, which has excellent elasticity and shock absorption properties.
The biggest highlight of each pair of running shoes is the core element – the midsole made of foamed microspheres, which can effectively absorb the impact on the feet during running and provide good cushioning performance. The high rebound effect of the material can feedback a large amount of energy, bringing a unique running experience to runners.
Compared to traditional EVA midsoles, E-TPU midsoles use physically foamed polyurethane materials, which are shaped like popcorn after molding. They have excellent resilience and deformation recovery, and their performance far exceeds that of traditional EVA materials.
E-TPU material is not only lightweight but also maintains elasticity within a wide temperature range. Even in freezing temperatures as low as -20°C, the foamed microspheres ensure that Energy Boost maintains excellent performance. The material has a high rebound rate of 50-55% and low compression permanent deformation. It is not sensitive to temperature changes, making it a perfect combination of soft touch and excellent elasticity.
This miraculous “popcorn” has helped Adidas lead the way in the field of sports shoes and is a major contributor to Adidas’ performance growth. The Boost series has led to a sharp increase in Adidas’ sales in the Chinese market, with a 28% rise in the first quarter to 8.65 euros!
However, the usage of E-TPU material in the entire shoe material field is not very large, mainly due to:
- the relatively high cost of E-TPU material;
- although domestic E-TPU material research and development has achieved certain results, there is still some gap compared with BASF Infinergy® E-TPU, and BASF has signed an exclusive use contract with Adidas.
- E-TPU Popcorn material is relatively difficult to design, with all styles being similar, heavy Adidas branding, and deviating from the brand’s pursuit of originality, technology, texture, differentiation, etc., so other major brands have not promoted it.
So besides the shoe material field, where else can this excellent material be applied?
1.Automotive interior filling:
ETPU has the advantages of better environmental safety, light weight, good elasticity, good toughness, no deformation, temperature resistance, fatigue resistance, etc. With ETPU (popcorn material) as the cushioning material, it can effectively reduce the friction and noise between components and between components and items in the car, greatly reduce the overall weight, and also be conducive to NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) suppression, reduce harmful gas emissions, and is the perfect choice for shock absorption, damping and seat filling materials.
The bicycle innovation company Ergon, headquartered in Koblenz, Germany, uses BASF’s foamed thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU) Infinergy material in the production of bicycle saddles. Ergon’s bicycle saddles consist of two shells, which are isolated in a sandwich structure, and the high-performance elastomer shock absorber made of Infinergy is fixed in a floating manner.
In the Yamaha Motor Corporation’s 05GEN three-wheeled concept vehicle, BASF’s Infinergy is used for the tires to enhance the overall driving experience, and its unique honeycomb structure gives the vehicle a more eye-catching design appearance.
4. Ship fenders and buffer components:
The mixed fenders made of E-TPU have very small permanent deformation under compression, while maintaining high durability and strength.
5.Sports tracks and children’s protective flooring:
E-PTU is used for the tracks. Compared to traditional materials, E-PTU offers the following advantages:
1. Safety and environmental friendliness, non-toxic and odorless.
2. Good flatness and comfortable touch.
3. High compressive strength, resistant to deformation.
4. Excellent cushioning and resilience, with adjustable elastic output to meet different requirements.
5. Long-term stability in physical performance, wear-resistant, and temperature-resistant.
The unique energy absorption and transmission characteristics of E-PTU effectively protect joints and prevent sports injuries, providing a better experience for people during exercise.
6. Sports protection:
E-PTU has the following characteristics in sports protection:
1. Non-toxic and odorless, with a mild and comfortable touch, ensuring safety.
2. The processing process is environmentally friendly and efficient, and can adapt to various temperatures.
3. Excellent anti-aging and weather resistance, ensuring long-term use and storage.
4. The material is composed of independent inflatable particles, with excellent impact absorption and energy return effects, providing strong protection for the body, especially for the knees, wrists, and ligaments.
Whether used as sports flooring, yoga mats, or helmet seats, E-PTU can easily handle it with its superior physical properties and environmental characteristics, bringing safety and health to sports enthusiasts!
E-TPU popcorn material can also be used for filling sofas, mattresses and other furniture.
E-TPU is composed of countless independent inflatable particles. It is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and has excellent shock absorption and energy return effects. It greatly reduces the risk of infants and young children falling and colliding during play. It also provides protection for knees, wrists, and ligaments.