How Rubber Shoe Soles are Made

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.

How Rubber Soles are Made for Shoes

To make a rubber outsole you need a sole design, metal outsole tooling, a heated hydraulic press and rubber compound.  


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 such as sulfur or peroxide.

How Rubber Soles are Made for Shoes

If you want to lean more about how to make shoe soles check out the books How Shoes are Made and The Shoe Material Design Guide. 

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