The Process of Making Nike Shoes
How are Nike shoes made? Most Nike shoes are made by cold cement construction process. If you want to learn how to design shoes you need to know this basic shoe making process. Cold cement is the modern updated style of shoe construction. Cold cement is the opposite of the classic high heat vulcanized shoe construction found in Vans and Converse shoes. Cold cement shoe construction allows the use of modern lightweight plastic, foam and mesh materials due to the low temperatures required for bonding the upper to the shoe sole. Every modern high performance athletic shoe manufactured by Nike for Running, Basketball etc… is made by this cold cement process. Every Air Jordan basketball shoe for the Jordan 1 to the Jordan 30+ is made by the cold cement process. This is how Nike makes all of its performance athletic shoes.
Cold Cement Shoe assembly Process:
In the cold cement process the shoe upper can be prepared with the strobel bottom. For this classic jogger style the outsole covers the edge upper so a strobel bottom can be used to make the shoe lighter and more flexible.
The Upper is steamed to soften the materials and the last is inserted and pulled tight. Once the last is tight inside the upper a second lasting machine pulls the heel edge. Once the last is secured inside the upper and temporary shoes laces pulled tight the upper is cooled to shrink the upper tight to the last.
The shoe may have a plastic or fabric part installed on top of the tongue to protect the surface from damage and drift during the lasting operations.
While the upper is being lasted the sole unit being prepared. In this case a the rubber sheet sole is combined with the EVA foam cushioning component cemented inside. This is done in a separate process that’s called stock fitting.
Now that the upper is lasted tightly and the outside unit is compete, the two pieces come together. The rubber sole unit will receive coatings of primer and cement. The outsole will get it’s own special primer designed for EVA and rubber. The shoe upper is also prepared with its own special primer and cement.
After the contact cement and primer has been completely dried in the heating tunnels the two pieces are joined together by hand. The skilled worked aligns the upper and outsole together then places the shoe is a hydraulic press.
The shoe will have 3 pressing operations, usually all done with one machine. A vertical press, Toe and Heel Press and Side presses. This insures there is full contact between the upper and outsole. Once the shoe is pressed together it’s often put in the cooling tunnel to set the glue.
After the cooling tunnel a shoe de-lasting machine is used to push the last out of the shoe without wrinkling the upper.
Now the sneaker is complete at this point you can insert the foot bed. The footbed may be molded EVA with a fabric cover or flat sheet cut foam. The flat die-cut footed is usually cemented inside the shoe, while molded footbeds are most often removable.
The new sneaker is ready for a final QC inspection, a quick check for any loose threads, cleaning and packing.
Learn more about how to design shoes and how Nike and the other big brands make shoes in the new book. The shoe making process is described in PFD format.
How Shoes are Made.
If you want to learn more, check out our new books.
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24 inch tape specifically designed for measuring shoe lasts.
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