The Footwear Technology Center of La Rioja, CTCR, travelled last week to the Dutch town of Waalwijk to take part in the SLEMinars, held at the SLEM Footwear Institute on 20th and 21st April. In this edition the theme of the event revolves around the future of footwear production, the new technologies applied and the changes that are reaching the sector.
During the first day of the seminars the advance of new technologies in the production of smart footwear was highlighted. On the one hand, the combination of 3D scanners and 3D printing allows to offer footwear customized and adapted to the needs and preferences of each client. On the other hand, the technologies of the industry 4.0 (big data, collaborative robots, cyberphysical systems, internet of things, etc.) optimize the manufacturing processes, improving the results, optimizing the use of resources and, contrary to what is usually thought, increasing the importance that workers have, as they go on to perform tasks that add more value to the product, while robots are responsible for performing minor operations.
The second day of the SLEMinars was about the disruptive production of footwear, that is, the sudden changes that are reaching the productive processes of the sector and that can change its history forever. A number of international speakers presented their experience on the production of footwear through additive manufacturing (3D printing), the use of new materials, 3D fabrics applied to footwear and the production or finalization of footwear at the shops.
A common conclusion to all conferences is that without investment in R&D&I in products and in production processes it is impossible to compete in the global market, especially taking into account the productive power of countries with low-cost labour. This makes the work of the CTCR increasingly important, with the ultimate aim of increasing business competitiveness through process improvement (RFID, 3D printing, ICTs…), the development of new materials and the care of environmental issues and sustainability, among others.