An Entire Journey of How a Factory Makes Shoes
An Entire Journey of How a Factory Makes Shoes
Shoes are like part of our body, for a long time, early humans did not take long to understand that feet need protection. These days you can find many different kinds of shoes for a different type of work and activity. Because now we know only wearing shoes isn’t enough for the health of our feet wearing the right shoes for the right purpose is very important.
Factories all over the world follow the same procedure and use pretty much the same technology and steps to make shoes. A giant in China that makes thousands of shoes per day or a high-quality shop in England that makes handmade shoes follows the same procedure. We will also shed light on the various machinery that a giant uses in their factories to produce high-quality shoes.
Handcrafted shoes are more expensive and rarer than the shoes created by a giant company. We will also discuss why handmade leather shoes are more costly than the ones made by machines.
Machine Used In The Process Of Making Shoes
We will talk about machines that are being used in the shoe factory before talking about the step-by-step procedure of making shoes.
The Marking And Cutting Of Shoe Material
In every shoe factory, you can find this standard machine; this machine is used to cut and marking operation. This machine is also called a Clicker Cutting Machine. You will see this piece in every shoe factory because this machine is standard in every shoe factory.
A machine called Drag Knife Cutter is also being used in factories where mass production is needed. This machine has a vacuum-like surface that holds the shoe and cuts it into required pieces for the second level.
The Addition/Application of Logos
After the cutting, the logo process will start, and logos will be printed, and they can be added by silk screen printing. They can also be embroidered on the parts, or radiofrequency welded. These logo adding methods can be varied, and they need to be done right after the cutting process for better quality.
The Process of Upper Stitching
There are many types of sewing machines being used in the industry, and their models can vary from the long arm to the short arm and the post, etc. As you know, every machine is located at a different place, when shoes are done in one phase, the workers move it to the next step.
When the logo is added, workers bring the shoes for stitching, and stitching staff takes control. Stitching can be intricate and simple, But if the stitching is more complex, then there will be more stitching machines.
The style of the machine also depends on the operations need to complete shoes. After the stitching shoes are moved to the next level, the heel counters and toe boxes need to be shaped. The machines apply heat to the thermoplastic counter within the heel and toe. The shoe gets its final shape after it is clammed.
Once the upper is completed, a distinctive sewing machine named Strobel is used to finish the process. This machine sews the underneath fabric onto the upper. The bottom of the material is also known as “sock.” It is dotted with alignment lines, to make sure that the upper is now twisted. The upper is now ready to be moved for assembling and lasting.
Shoe Assembly Process
Once the shoes are finalized for assembly, now comes the time to switch to heavy equipment. The typical assemble line stretches over 100 yards. On the line’s front, you can witness a steamer that will soften the upper of the shoes. This process makes them ready for lasting. These lasting machines help in getting the upper pulled tightly over the shoe lasts.
The toe lasting machine is the core component of all the lasting equipment needed for making shoes. This machine grabs hold of shoe uppers and pulls in place while applying hot glue to set the upper neatly on the last.
Next, the heel and waist of shoes are drawn together in the same way using a machine or by hand. The lasted upper is set within the first tunnel on the line. For this particular case, a cooling tunnel is used to shrink the upper with the last, as tight as possible.
Footwear Primer and Cement
Once the outsoles and lasted uppers are placed together on the conveyor belt, they both receive two coatings of primer and cement. Each application is followed by placing the parts on the belt again. The upper and outsole then pass through a heat tunnel that dries off the primer and cement.
After the lasted uppers and outsoles are primed and cemented completely, the next step is to connect the parts with each other. A worker will take the outsole and upper in-hand and fit them together with the utmost precision. After both the parts are fitted together, a pressing operation line makes sure that the connected surfaces are in contact with each other.
Outsole Pressing and Finishing
The pressing operation lines compress the heel, sides, and bottom of the upper and outsoles together. The lasted upper with the merged bottom is kept in a chiller unit to strengthen the bond. Then once the parts are taken out of the chiller, the workers de-last the shoe by using a machine or by hand. Based on the design and structure of the shoe, after this procedure, there might be a handful of operations.
There might be a need for your shoe to undergo channel stitching. Channel stitching is done with a separate oversized sewing machine that stitches through the upper’s thickness and the rubber outsole. Lastly, the shoe goes past the dryer oven as well as a UV Light Tunnel. This ultimately ensures that there is no visible or invisible sign of mold growth while the shoes are in transit.
Reasons Why Hand-Crafted Shoes are Worth Every Penny
1. More Quality, Less Quantity
It is always better to go for shoes that are of superb quality rather than going for 15 pairs of shoes that cost more that are not worth wearing. The cost of 15 pairs might be equivalent to just 2 or 3 pairs of handmade shoes, but the excellent quality and look are worth every penny.
2. Handmade Shoes are Better Fitting
The feet are the most important fragment of your body and require full support. If your shoes are not supportive, it can affect your entire body posture. One sign of well-fitted shoes is that you will almost forget to take off your shoes as enter the door; hence they are more costly.
3. Handmade shoes can be repaired
Handmade shoes are designed to last longer, so they require the finest materials and professional craftsmanship. Though handcrafted shoes are costly, it saves your money over a more extended period. It is always better to fix handmade shoes rather than replace them.
How Shoes Are Made Step-By-Step
The design team
The shoe LAST Department
Stamping and Stitching
Assembling the Shoe
Step insole and Decoration
The shoe room
The Design Team
The Design Team helps with every step of manufacturing the shoe. First and the most important thing about making the shoe is design. These guys are the soul of the shoe business; they have a creative vision. These people know very well, which things make a shoe look good and perform well.
When a client provides the initial sketch of the shoe, the designers examine it and make sure that they are technically perfect for the shoemaking process. Many shoe designers draw designs on computers, and some of them prefer to draw by hand. But each drawing is accurate to proceed.
The shoe Last Department
When you have to start production, the second most important thing you need is LAST, its (LAST) a mold that is used in shoemaking. It depends on the LAST, how your shoes are made. To give the shoe its shape, you need a shoe LAST mold. Basically LAST made of wood in past years but now it's made with plastic and metal also. You need both left, and right shoe LAST to make the same size and shape.
Some more things also affect shoemaking, like how foot rolls when on walks and heights of the heel. The LAST is a vaguely foot-shape that is lump on wood. The shoe will be modeled around the LAST in the processing of shoemaking. The LAST is used once again at the end of the process To make sure the product is fitted with the original design,
Once the design is ready, you have to cut the design for the shoe upper. This job is done by the cutting department. Factories use different ways to cut the material, they use computer-controlled giant cutters or hand cutting.
Each part of the shoe needs its own cutting dies. For example, a shoe has 15 parts you need 15 cutting dies. So if you have thousands of shoe parts, you need thousands of cutting dies. Cutting is not easy, especially when it's done by hand.
Stamping and Stitching
After cutting the next process in the shoe, manufacturing is Stamping. Now the shoe cut parts referred to the stamping department to mark or stamp on them. Stamping is essential to avoid confusion when the shoe Pisces are sewing together. Because stamping is marked where eyelets need to be punched. After stamping, the stitching workers stitch all pieces together.
How many workers are needed, It's up on the complexity of the shoe. The stitchers are stitched to the outer shell, tongue parts, and inside lining. They also add the color foam, lace loops, hardware, and heel counters. Toe forming and handling the heel is also done by the stitching department.
Assembling the Shoe
After the stitching, the next process is assembling the shoe. This process gives the shoe shape. A technique called Goodyear welting is used on classic Derby or Oxford footwear.
Goodyear Welting is a complicated technique that was used in 1872 for the shoemaking process. The first step is to attach the insole temporarily with the shoe LAST and fix the rubber ridge to the insole, which makes stitching the shaft to Goodyear welt easier.
The shaft is fitted and laced on the LAST, then it's attached to the insole using the nail and hot glue. Leave it for dry, it can take 30 minutes to a fortnight. This process will make sure that leather gets the shape of LAST.
Now the shoe is in perfect shape to stitch a 3mm wide piece of leather(Walt) to the lining and insole. Using the Goodyear stitching machine to stitch the Walt in his place. Goodyear stitching is famous because it's inside the shoe completely invisible. The Walt did not run all around in the insole, except the heel section.
Now it is time to remove the LAST. The shank is fitted in the shoe to continuously support the manufacturing process.
Goodyear Welt the Blake Method
These days not everyone uses the Goodyear welt method. There is another popular method using the blake method; it's mostly used in British-made shoes. Blake's method is very famous in Italy. But what is the difference between these methods?
The Blake construction method is older than the Goodyear welt method, which was used in 1856. Stitching is performed by a Langhorne sewing machine, instead of done by hand.
The workers sew each layer of the shoe, the insole, the shaft bottom, and the outsole without walts. The person who loves to wear the blake will tell you it's more comfortable and less rigid.
The Blake shoe doesn't have any external stitchings and any close cuts. For flexibility, the upper and outsole use tighter bonds. The manufacturing or Blake shoe uses less layers, but Goodyear welts use more layers and provide durable construction.
Step Insoles and Decoration
After a different manufacturing process, we reached the most critical step of shoemaking, the insole. Now the shoe is taking shape very nicely, but it is still on the rough side. Because it's still not comfortable without an insole. So make sure the insole comes with the best quality material.
You probably know everything about shoemaking, but the shoemaking process is not completed yet. At this stage, you have to take care of the shoes carefully because it is the finishing stage, the shoe is smooth, the holes are carefully hidden, dyeing, and polishing.
Make sure the visible part of the welt is decorated. The insole with the brand's logo is in the shoe, and it's carefully clean.
The shoe room
We learn almost everything about the shoemaking process, and our journey is near to end. The last step is the shoe room. It's a finishing department, where shoes get their final touches. In this place, they polished the shoe and laced up.
Every shoe goes through the final quality check after being packed and shipped to retailers for those who purchase and wear them with pride.