Plastics and rubber materials have revolutionized many
aspects of sports and leisure activities over the years, and
technology advances continue to improve safety, comfort,
performance and – increasingly – sustainability, in those
sectors. The applications are diverse and widespread -
ranging from the balls used in games and various footwear
and clothing, to protective helmets and padding, playing
surfaces, and gear such as racquets, golf clubs, safety
eyewear, racing bikes, skis, kayaks and surfboards.
Manufacturers and brand owners, for example, are investing
significant money and effort into producing sneakers and
footwear that offer style, performance and increased
recyclability while also leveraging techniques such as 3D
Yantai, China-based materials supplier Wanhua Chemical Group
Co. Ltd. has partnered with Chinese footwear maker Peak
Sports to 3D print a futuristic-looking sneaker entirely
from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Called “The Next,”
the colorful shoe is both customizable and totally
recyclable, the two firms said when announcing it in October.
Wanhua supplies TPU filament, powder and coatings and
adhesive to make the shoe.
Germany’s Covestro, meanwhile, is also kicking up its heels
in this sector. The materials supplier is working with
Chinese shoe designer Axis Liu to create trendy, recyclable
sneakers entirely from TPUs, as well. The partners have also
developed customized running and basketball shoes, using a
number of Covestro material technologies, including its
Insqin-brand, water-based PU textile coatings and adhesives,
urethane foams, TPU textile fibers and films, and
Maezio-brand continuous fiber-reinforced thermoplastic
Others in that sector, such as Nike and adidas, also are
finding ways to incorporate waste ocean plastics into their
shoes and sportswear.
Indian start-up sports apparel company Alcis Sports,
meanwhile, is making its line of athleisure clothing out of
recycled PET bottles. Company co-founder Roshan Baid told
The Economic Times in India in October that the firm plans
to produce half its garments from recycled polyester within
the next few months. Alcis claims that each T-shirt they
make, for example, consumes about eight plastic bottles,
saves roughly 27 liters of water, uses half the energy to
produce, and reduces carbon emissions by more than 54
percent than shirts made from virgin polyester.
Companies such as Spanish injection molder RDI Plastics use
polycarbonate, ABS, expanded polystyrene and other materials
to make protective helmets for use in hockey, soccer,
motocross and cycling, among others.
Several materials producers are very involved in supplying
solutions to different parts of the sports and leisure
markets. Here are just a couple examples:
DuPont Co.’s Surlyn resin finds use in golf ball covers,
bowling pin covers, body boards, snowshoes and other winter
sports articles. Its performance polymers, such as Delrin
acetal resin, Hytrel thermoplastic elastomer and Zytel nylon
resin are used in snow-shoe bindings, in-line skates, and
various types of buckles and straps. And its Kevlar aramid
fiber is used in sporting good components ranging from
bicycle helmets and motorcycle clothing, to boating hulls
and hiking boots.
BASF SE’s polyurethane-based flooring structures find use on
track surfaces and children playgrounds. The materials help
to provide high rebound and excellent impact absorption,
helping athletes achieve their best performance while
lowering risks of exercise-related injuries for children.
When it comes to water sports, San Francisco-based Oru Kayak
Inc. has applied the traditional Japanese art of origami and
used it to create a series of lightweight, foldable kayaks
made from corrugated polypropylene. Its products range from
12 to 16 feet long and from 26 to 34 pounds, and fold up
into a suitcase-sized case with a shoulder strap that can
easily be carried by one person.
French resin supplier Arkema Group also supplies materials
for use in a variety of sporting applications, including for
the cockpit window and the glazing shielding the two helms
of its 50-foot Arkema trimaran racing boat. For that, they
used Altuglas ShieldUp nanostructured acrylic sheet, which
weighs about half as much as conventional glass.
In mid-October, the University of Maine’s Advanced
Structures and Composites Center, in conjunction with
several partners, successfully produced the world’s largest
3D printed boat, entirely from carbon fiber-reinforced ABS
supplied by Techmer PM LLC. Dubbed the 3Dirigo, the
25-foot-long, 5,000-pound patrol boat was printed on a 3D
printer, called the MasterPrint, made by Rockford, Ill.‐based
Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc. The effort earned the group
three Guinness World Records - for the world’s largest
prototype polymer 3D printer, largest solid 3D‐printed
object, and largest 3D‐printed boat. And even the sports
venues themselves are making good use of plastic materials.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil, for example, officials
found a way to use millions of recycled plastic bottles to
produce more than 6,700 seats in the Maracanã stadium.
There is no disputing the vital role that plastics and
rubber materials play in virtually every aspect of the
sporting world - which is why such applications will be
among those in the spotlight at CHINAPLAS 2020 in Shanghai
is organized by Adsale Exhibition
Services Ltd., Beijing Yazhan Exhibition Services Ltd., and
Adsale Exhibition Services (Shanghai) Ltd. and co-organized
by China National Light Industry Council - China Plastics
Processing Industry Association, China Plastics Machinery
Industry Association, Messe Düsseldorf China Ltd., the
Plastic Trade Association of Shanghai. The event is also
supported by various plastics and rubber associations in
China and abroad.
First introduced in 1983, CHINAPLAS has been approved by UFI
(The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry) since
2006. CHINAPLAS is exclusively sponsored by the Europe's
Association for Plastics and Rubber Machinery Manufacturers
(EUROMAP) in China for the 31st time. CHINAPLAS is currently
Asia's leading plastics and rubber trade fair.