Firefighter boots experience extreme situations when their wearers swing into action. The requirements placed on each individual component are therefore also very high. HAIX has developed a new high-tech design which rethinks the concept of the shoelace or bootlace entirely. The difference is immediately apparent as soon as you touch the new lace. It is stiffer, almost giving the sensation of wire. This new generation of bootlaces is being used in all new FIRE EAGLE boots.
When the process of developing this novel type of bootlace first got underway, one fundamental question was posed. What is a lace anyway? Of course, it keeps the shoe or boot closed properly. It ensures the best fit and provides individual comfort. One wearer might prefer boots that are firm and tightly laced. Another may opt for a looser feel and not wish to be too constrained. If you remove the lace from a shoe or boot and consider it in isolation, then it can be seen as a sort of rope. Albeit a thinner, more flexible and shorter version of what we conventionally think of as a rope.
An Austrian family-owned rope manufacturer formed the ideal partner for this project. Specialized in a wide range of different products which include steel cables for cableways and cranes, synthetic fibre ropes for use in competitive sailing and ropes for fall protection and industry. Shoelaces and bootlaces have not formed part of the firm’s portfolio thus far. But together, the partnership redefined laces as ropes.
Tear & flame resistant
The development process ultimately went on for three years before customers were able to buy HAIX footwear containing the new rope-lace. Developers have tested around 50 variants. The first thing that needed to be done was find the basic material. That was harder than expected: Sail ropes are very light, very elastic and enormously tear resistant. On the face of things, this seemed to be an excellent starting point. But the tear resistance and tensile strength of the laces were only the start. Fire brigade standards mean that requirements are extremely high.
Every component of a firefighter’s boot must be capable of withstanding ten seconds of direct exposure to flames without incurring any damage and without suffering reburn. This hurdle proved too much for the sail ropes. The rope and shoe technology experts put their heads together and came up with a new solution that optimizes the resilience and tear resistance of the laces.
For those interested in numbers, the laboratory tests showed a tensile strength of 2,000 Newtons. When abrasion tests are conducted, the machine automatically stops after one million cycles. This is where counting ends. A ‘normal’, high-quality lace will survive for up to 300,000 cycles when submitted to such a test.
As unspectacular as it appears at first glance, this is no longer an ordinary shoelace at all: ‘Rather, it is a high-tech lace,’ is how HAIX describes the new development.
Your contact person:
Dr Djavid Salehi – Regional Sales
Manager based in Melbourne: