How Rubber Shoe Soles are Made

How Rubber Soles are Made for Shoes

We can thank Charles Goodyear for his perseverance.  In 1844, after years of experimentation Charles Goodyear invented the process of heating natural rubber mixed with sulfur. He called it vulcanization and this is still how we make shoe rubber today. With the right combination of mixing, heat, and curing agents, sticky natural rubber is transformed into tough and colorful rubber shoe bottoms.

Rubber shoe sole pressing
Rubber pressing factory

Pressing shoe soles

The rubber pressing operations for shoe soles are usually sub-contracted to a factory that specializes in the compounding and pressing of the rubber parts. The rubber mixing operations are messy and pressing rooms are uncomfortably hot so these are best done outside of the shoe factory.  Also, the rubber pressing factory will have many customers allowing the presses to run higher volume efficiently.

See a rubber pressing factory

The rubber pressing operation begins with the mixing of the rubber components.  Depending on the performance requirements of the rubber outsole, natural and synthetic rubbers are combined with the curing agents of sulfur or peroxide.

Once the rubber recipe is selected and tested, the production rubber can be mixed, formed and pressed.

Learn more about making shoes:

Footwear design book Free PFD Shoe Design Book DownloadDo you want to learn how big brands make shoes?  Now you can!  How Shoes are Made will show you how modern shoes come to life! More than just a tour through a sneaker factory and more than your average shoe making book!  From drawing shoe designs to sample development and footwear manufacturing, you will learn how it is all done. Written by veteran shoemaking pros, How Shoes are Made will give you a look inside the REAL world of shoe design, development, and mass production. 220 pages with over 400 color photos and drawings. 26 chapters explaining shoe design, footwear pattern making, sample development, footwear materials selection, upper stitching, outsole and tooling design, shoe lasts, shoe costing, quality inspections, starting you own shoe brand, and much more!  A must read for young shoe designers, sneaker heads, or any footwear fanatic! Over 2500 copies sold! Read in 60 Countries! See Preview Video On YouTube

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Table of Contents:

The Design Process, Shoe Development, Shoe Patterns, Shoe Specifications, Outsole Tooling, Development Process, Pre-Production, Material Preparation, Stitching Operations, Rubber Pressing, EVA Forming, The Assembly Line, The Shoe Last, Footwear Costing, Importing Shoes, Shoe Logo Design, Leather for Shoes, Textiles for Shoes ,Synthetics for Shoes,  Foam for Shoes, Know Your Footbeds, Material Suppliers, Shoe Designers Tools, Jobs in the Shoe Trade ,Quality Control, Starting a Shoe Company, Life at a Shoe Factory, Shoe Making Dictionary

If you want to learn more, check out our new books.

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Print Edition + Paper Pattern + Blue Prints and Spec sheets

A complete technical specification, drawings, blueprint, pattern and spec.

Computer cut shoe pattern for a classic jogger.  Factory Blue Print included.

Entire pattern size run for the Arris classic trainer, Men’s US 7-13 (Euro 39-47)

Shoe last measuring step. Measures last heel lift from 1cm to 11.5 cm.

24 inch tape specifically designed for measuring shoe lasts.

Ready to Print! Men's size 9 last. The .STL file can be scaled in X, Y and Z.

Great for checking leathers and synthetic materials. Features adjustable dial.

Beaked pincers with built in hammer face. For shoe lasting and sole nailing.

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Great for DIY Shoemaking. This casual rubber outsole is durable, comfortable, and easy to work with.

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