The kind of rubber that really matters

With the introduction of dual-compound rubber-soling technology in Africa, footwear can now offer better durability and more comfort

Even when working in the same industry, employees often require footwear that is fit for different purposes with varying levels of protection. Traditionally, people working in extreme or hazardous conditions required footwear with a single-density vulcanised rubber sole, a nitrile rubber sole, or a dual-density polyurethane rubber sole.

The single-density rubber sole can compromise on comfort as it makes for a heavy shoe with no midsole. The use of polyurethane rubber, on the other hand, results in a lighter boot that offers more comfort, but compromises on durability. Dual-compound rubber (DCR) technology, however, offers all the benefits with none of the compromises.

It uses two different layers of rubber with the soles directly injected onto the uppers (the part of the shoe that covers the foot) for a superior bond that increases longevity. In DCR footwear, the polyurethane is replaced with a lightweight rubber to fight the destructive impact of hydrolysis, or the breakdown of chemicals, due to its reaction to water.

The technology is ideal for environments with fluctuating temperatures and is resistant to 300°C direct and radiant heat, acids, oils and chemicals. It has superior slip, penetration and abrasion resistance, is shock absorbent and has a 100-percent waterproof sole. It’s ideal for use in the mining, oil and gas, heavy construction and engineering industries.

This new technology can be found in the Bova footwear range. Peter Gerbrands, group marketing manager at BBF Safety Group, which manufactures and distributes the Bova range, says: “The challenge for us was to find a way to bring together the benefits offered by both the single-density vulcanised rubber and dual-density polyurethane soling technologies, while eliminating their shortcomings.

“This technology is available through only a handful of manufacturers around the world, due to the complexity of the sole injection, and until now has not been manufactured on the African continent. This meant the DRC boots had to be imported, which made them expensive.”

However, with Bova now manufacturing the product locally, it can offer the high-quality footwear at an affordable price. BBF Safety launched the new Bova range at the 2019 A-OSH Exhibition. The range includes a six-inch boot, two eight-inch boots, a shoe and Chelsea boot.

Gerbrands comments: “Bova has earned a reputation for manufacturing safety footwear that is engineered for purpose rather than applying a one-size-fits-all approach.” With this in mind, the manufacturer plans to expand the DCR footwear range further with a specialist boots for extreme risk-associated environments with specialist applications.

“It is our responsibility to constantly explore the products we release into the market and ask whether this is the best that we can offer our wearers. As technology evolves, it is our job to update our products to reflect the latest in safety footwear engineering, in line with market requirements and costs,” Gerbrands concludes.

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