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How does polyurethane foam contribute to breathability in shoes?

by:Hengyi     2023-10-19

Polyurethane foam, commonly known as PU foam, has become a staple material in various industries. From insulation to furniture, this versatile and durable material has proven its worth. However, one of its lesser-known applications is in the realm of footwear. In recent years, shoe manufacturers have started utilizing polyurethane foam to improve breathability in shoes. This innovative approach has revolutionized the comfort and functionality of footwear. In this article, we will explore the various ways in which polyurethane foam contributes to breathability in shoes.

1. Introduction to Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam is a synthetic material that is created through a chemical reaction between polyols and diisocyanates. This reaction leads to the formation of a cellular structure, resulting in foam with various properties. It can be classified into two main types: flexible and rigid foam. Flexible PU foam is soft, cushiony, and widely used in the footwear industry. Rigid foam, on the other hand, is primarily used for insulation purposes.

2. Enhancing Air Circulation

One of the key reasons why polyurethane foam is preferred by shoe manufacturers is its ability to enhance air circulation. The open-cell structure of the foam allows air to flow freely, preventing the accumulation of moisture and heat inside the shoe. This feature is particularly beneficial for athletes and individuals who spend long hours on their feet.

3. Moisture-wicking Properties

Another remarkable attribute of polyurethane foam is its moisture-wicking properties. The foam has the ability to absorb moisture, such as sweat, and release it into the atmosphere. This prevents the buildup of moisture within the shoe, reducing the chances of discomfort, odor, and bacterial growth. As a result, shoes made with polyurethane foam keep the feet dry and fresh even during strenuous activities.

4. Temperature Regulation

Polyurethane foam helps in maintaining a comfortable temperature inside the shoe. The foam's open-cell structure allows for better air circulation, enabling heat to dissipate easily. This prevents the accumulation of heat, which can lead to discomfort and excessive sweating. By optimizing temperature regulation, polyurethane foam shoes offer a more pleasant wearing experience, especially in hot and humid climates.

5. Cushioning and Shock Absorption

Apart from its breathability features, polyurethane foam also offers exceptional cushioning and shock absorption properties. When used in the midsole of shoes, it provides a comfortable and supportive platform for the feet. The foam compresses under impact and then returns to its original shape, effectively absorbing the shock generated during walking or running. This significantly reduces the strain exerted on the feet, making polyurethane foam shoes an excellent choice for people with foot conditions or those who engage in rigorous physical activities.

6. Lightweight and Durable

Polyurethane foam is renowned for its lightweight nature. Compared to traditional materials, such as rubber or leather, polyurethane foam shoes offer a lighter and more comfortable option. This lightweight property minimizes the strain on the feet and legs, allowing for enhanced mobility and reducing fatigue. Moreover, the durability of polyurethane foam ensures that the shoes retain their shape and cushioning properties over extended periods of usage.

7. Eco-Friendly Solutions

In recent years, there has been a growing concern regarding the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Polyurethane foam, however, presents an eco-friendly alternative. Shoe manufacturers can utilize eco-friendly polyurethane foam, which is derived from sustainable and renewable sources. This reduces the carbon footprint and contributes to a more sustainable manufacturing process.


Polyurethane foam has revolutionized the footwear industry by introducing breathability into shoes. Through its enhanced air circulation, moisture-wicking properties, temperature regulation, cushioning, and shock absorption capabilities, polyurethane foam shoes offer unparalleled comfort and functionality. Additionally, its lightweight and durable nature, along with the availability of eco-friendly options, make it a popular choice among consumers and shoe manufacturers alike. With continuous advancements in materials technology, the future of polyurethane foam in footwear looks promising, ensuring that wearers' feet remain cool, dry, and comfortable throughout their adventures.

Owing to its polyurethane foam price and high density pu foam benefits, has become a buzzword in the pu foam market.
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