The 3D Bonding technology represents a manufacture method in which leather (or any other flexible material) pieces are joined three-dimensionally at its ends, thus replacing the traditional sewing labor by a polymer injection.
The 3D Bonding technology arises in Elche (Spain) in 2009 with the aim of reducing the need of labour force during the manufacturing of traditional products such as the footwear. It is a modern injection technology that was created in response to the relocation of the production and tries to reduce the labour costs associated with the traditional processes at the expense of a higher investment in specialised machinery.
The 3D Bonding technology consists on the placement of flexible pieces in a mold system specially designed that contains channels surrounding those pieces. Then, a polymer in liquid state (usually polyurethane) is injected and flows through the channels of the mold creating a three-dimensional skeleton. After the injection, it is necessary to wait for the curing time of the polymer before opening the system and removing the product that will require a finishing process. Once solidified, the polymer skeleton bonds the pieces that make up the product and provides stability.
The necessary elements for the application of the technology are listed below:
- The mold: the process requires a mold and counter-mold that delimit a space with the shape of the product to be obtained. Going into greater detail, over the intern surface of the mold, there will be a wall of one or more pieces of leather or a similar material that will form the external layer of the article. Additionally, as it has been previously mentioned, the mold will contain the channels for the injected polymer.
- Injection machinery: for the application of the 3D Bonding technology, it is necessary to employ one or more machines for the uniform injection of the polymer that will bond the different pieces placed in the mold system making up the product.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main upside of the 3D Bonding technology is the reduction of labour costs that allows due to the replacement of several tasks as the deforming and stitching processes by the injection of a polymer. Moreover, by using this technology it is possible to obtain a stable product, waterproof and with a higher durability due to its three-dimensional structure.
Nervertheless, the savings in time and procedure costs are directly related to the production volume because the 3D Bonding technology involves a considerable investment in specialised machinery and molds. This makes the technology interesting for the production of large batches that allows the amortization of the initial investment.
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