The present project has the general objective of developing the innovative capacities of SMEs of a traditional sector such as the footwear and auxiliary industry by the validation and transfer of technologies for the fast prototyping of moulds for the manufacturing of pre-series of injected shoe components (outsoles, heels, anatomical insocks), based on technologies used by other industrial sectors (toys and plastic processing) in different countries (Spain and Italy).

Through the development of the innovative capacity of the SMEs in the fields related to mould prototyping, it will be possible to speed up the time to market in an industrial sector fashion oriented where time is a key success factor.

The technology transfer and validation process will go from technologies implemented by the toy and plastic processing industry in Italy and Spain to footwear component manufacturers (final users) in Spain and Greece.

The specific technical objectives of the project are:

The current situation, under the technology point of view, for the footwear sector is that delivery times for pre-series of injected shoe components (as outsoles of different materials such as EVA, polyurethane and thermoplastic rubber) are around 70-90 days and the procedures used are based on manual ellaboration of prototypes and subsequent elaboration of metallic moulds.The pre-serie is the sales element shown to customers as well as the product offered at fairs, where sales are produced and where time is a key competitive element.

The proposed technology for this process is the use of rapid prototyping techniques for prototype mould production in combination with adequate materials, instead of metallic mould production, in order to inject short series/pre-series of shoe components. Through this procedure development costs of pre-series and time to market will be speed up by at least 50%.

The technology transfer process in this project will be based on the integration of different elements:

which will produce a new procedure in the European Footwear sector for the manufacturing of shoe components pre-series.

The technology transfer process to final pilot users will be catalysed by two technology Centres which will adapt the technology to the companies. The consortium is integrated by complementary partners which will play a significant role in each specific workpackage according to their background and objectives.

The proposal is SME driven in terms of needs definition and the technical problems to be solved are common problems to shoe components manufacturers in Europe, which have as competitive advantage against third countries less time to market and better adaptation to customer requirements.

The research in non technical issues facing innovation, is a major objective of this project which will help the technology implementation under the organisational, educational and sector related point of view.

The project will focus its non technical issues on: