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Testing footwear – why use SATRA?

Our footwear testing services offer members much more than just a test report – as AUSTIN SIMMONS explains.

A key benefit of SATRA membership is access to SATRA’s expertise. Over almost 100 years of research and observation on the performance of footwear and footwear materials in manufacture and service, SATRA has developed test methods covering components and whole footwear. Using our unique guidelines, the results of tests can be evaluated by our technologists to provide an assessment of suitability for purpose.

When asked to test a shoe material or component, reputable test houses will quickly identify standard properties they think should be tested and carry out the tests. If they are ISO 17025 accredited, you should be confident that the tests are being conducted correctly. However, it is one thing to produce a test result and quite another thing to be able to interpret what the result means.

Of course, it is not always necessary to know why something fails. It may simply be enough to know whether a product is satisfactory to place an order or to reject the shipment if it fails. SATRA offers this service under the title of ‘specification testing’, and it is particularly relevant when checking footwear against safety legislation.

However, SATRA members are often interested in a much deeper analysis of their products to improve quality, durability, fitness for purpose and cost effective manufacture. This is the role that SATRA was created for and continues unparalleled today.

A unique approach

Conducting the SATRA cold rating test

Firstly, SATRA has an ongoing research programme on test development, which is funded by members' subscriptions. This ensures that all the tests we carry out reflect the actual needs of the industry, both in terms of technical requirements and suitability for today’s market. It means that we must keep abreast of the changes in materials, manufacturing technology, consumer trends and legislation. We also update existing tests to make them more relevant and faster, and develop new ones.

Secondly, we encourage members to discuss their testing needs with us. As a result, we can help to define the important properties according to end use. We will often be able to suggest more relevant tests to predict service performance.

Thirdly, we use our expertise to interpret the test result. Even if asked to test against a recognised specification, we will always comment where we feel that the result does not tell the whole story and some qualification would be helpful.

Our whole approach to footwear testing relies very much on our expertise. How does SATRA ensure that this is maintained? Expertise is very much in the hands of individuals who build up their knowledge through experience of working in a specific field. Whether it is in upper materials, solings, lasting or sole attaching, SATRA has some of the world’s finest footwear technologists.

SATRA members benefit from almost 100 years of research

However, clearly the total sum of knowledge gained by SATRA over the years needs to be passed from person to person. This is achieved with the help of SATRA’s performance guidelines. All the information about tests and performance levels is stored in the guidelines library. It enables members of SATRA staff to interpret results consistently and to build on previous knowledge.

Over time, the guidelines have evolved so that all performance requirements relate to the end-use of the material or product to help identify their fitness-for-purpose. The library is regularly updated, with individual guidelines adapted to take account of such changes as new materials, new constructions and amended legislation, as well as alterations in manufacturing techniques. However, changes are not made at a whim. All amendments go through a process of peer review and only when SATRA is satisfied are they ratified.

Members should be wary of test houses which claim that their guidelines are the same as SATRA’s. They may have been in the past, but probably not today. Also, we do not release our guideline library to any external organisations.

The guidelines are only as good as the people who use them to interpret a test result. Only someone with experience will be able to explain what a particular guideline means. This is why we need both the guidelines (to maintain consistency over a period of time) and the expert who understands a member’s needs and how the guidelines fit into the modern footwear market.

Assessing footwear after the SATRA TM230 water resistance test

Member assurance

Members can be assured that SATRA’s footwear testing services provide more than just a test report. Your subscriptions ensure that nearly a century of experience is maintained and fed through into your test results.

Finally, it is worth remembering that a SATRA report – whether simply a test against a retail specification or a more detailed study of the performance characteristics of a new style – is accepted by industry globally as a mark of quality and professionalism. That alone is good reason to rely on SATRA.

Recent developments

Setting up the STM 567 Endofoot machine

In line with changes to modern production techniques and the globalised nature of footwear manufacture, SATRA has developed a number of key whole shoe tests. Examples of these include the advanced moisture management test (AMMT), which uses the STM 567 Endofoot machine – designed and built by SATRA (shown on right) – to characterise thermal insulation and sweat management, and the cold rating test – a development from AMMT work that enables the assessment of the long-term ability of footwear to protect the foot from extreme environments.

In addition, there is the laboratory water penetration test SATRA TM230, which is rapidly becoming widely accepted as a replacement for the standard trough test to assess the resistance of footwear to water ingress. SATRA can also conduct the simulated wear assessment test (SWAT) that subjects finished footwear to comparable levels of moisture, heat, pressure, flexing and abrasion as would be experienced in actual end use. The advantage SWAT has over a traditional wear trial is the accuracy and consistency of results and speed of completion.

How can we help?

Please email for further information on SATRA’s testing services for whole footwear and footwear components.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 38 of the December 2013 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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