Standards and High-Quality Footwear

Standardization News

Standards and High-Quality Footwear

Vibram, Inc.

Vibram is the world leader in the development and manufacturing of high-performance rubber soles for outdoor, recreational, military, workwear, shoe repair, and fashion footwear. For more than 80 years, the yellow octagon that symbolizes Vibram has been synonymous worldwide with quality, performance, safety, and innovation in the footwear industry. With international headquarters in Albizzate, Italy, Vibram produces over 40 million soles every year, is present in 120 countries, and has manufacturing, research, and representation bases in the U.S., China, Japan, Brazil, and Italy.

Vibram operates one of the few manufacturing facilities for outsoles in the U.S. Our manufacturing plant in North Brookfield, Massachusetts, supports local jobs and continues the proud tradition of manufacturing high-quality products made in America. We are also humbled to have the opportunity to provide products to the women and men of the U.S. military and other militaries throughout the world.

Vibram partners with hundreds of footwear brands around the globe. Companies such as Merrell, New Balance, Timberland, and Red Wing use Vibram’s iconic rubber soles. Vibram’s brand partners do the final assembly of the footwear product, but every project involves collaboration on design, and the material of the outsole is based on the intended purpose of each product. Being a global brand that serves numerous international footwear brands, Vibram relies on ASTM International standards as a sign of quality for both their products and their brand partners’ products.

Vibram established an official Tester Team in 1999, contributing to the company’s commitment to research and development. This is a group of professionals experienced in various disciplines and activities with the aim of testing Vibram products in the most difficult and rugged situations.

Over time, the Vibram Tester Team has taken on a more scientific approach. In addition to field testing, the tester team is equipped with technical tools such as variable inclination ramps, platforms that measure impact, and baropodometric platforms that measure performance in a mathematical way. In addition to athletes, the Vibram Tester Team includes mechanical and biomedical engineers specialized in sports and other disciplines.

ASTM certifications for footwear ensure that specific styles and designs are appropriate for workplaces with unique risks or dangers. As a material compounder, Vibram uses ASTM standards to ensure their materials meet the requirements of both their internal needs and, more importantly, the needs of their customers.

Vibram tests to numerous ASTM standards, among them:

  • Standard test method for rubber property—durometer hardness (D2240): Used to evaluate the hardness of a rubber sample with the use of a series of tests performed with a durometer.
  • Standard test method for rubber property—effect of liquids (D471): Used for evaluating the effects on the rubber materials caused by exposure to standardized fuels, oils, and other liquids.
  • Standard test methods for vulcanized rubber and thermoplastic elastomers—tension (D412): The most common standard for determining the tensile properties of vulcanized (thermoset) rubber and thermoplastic elastomers.
  • Standard test methods for flexible cellular materials—slab, bonded, and molded urethane foams (D3574): A range of tests used to characterize the properties of flexible polyurethane foams.

ASTM standards help Vibram achieve compliance with national and international codes, laws, and regulations. Serving the industrial, military, and firefighting markets, Vibram materials must meet the certification requirements of the specific performance documents of those markets. These same requirements allow Vibram to provide pinnacle materials across other footwear categories such as outdoor and lifestyle.

Testing to ASTM standards contributes to cost reduction and risk avoidance. Routine ASTM testing is important because it gives Vibram an added layer of quality control to ensure only the best materials are released to the production floor and shipped to the end user.

New soles are produced with three objectives: to guarantee the best grip and performance, to achieve a maximum level of comfort, and to maintain quality and durability over time. These objectives are achieved by stringent tests executed in the laboratory and in the field by the Vibram Tester Team. For Vibram, meeting ASTM requirements is the first critical step in product development.

Meeting ASTM standards helps Vibram continue to uphold its reputation for providing high-performance rubber soles and is one of the main reasons that premium footwear brands continue to partner with Vibram.■

Company Snapshot

Vibram Corporation
Headquarters: North Brookfield, MA, USA
Description: Vibram is the world leader in the development and manufacturing of high-performance rubber soles for outdoor and leisure activities, workwear, fashion, orthopedics, and correction. For more than 80 years, the yellow octagon that symbolizes Vibram has been synonymous worldwide with quality, performance, safety, and innovation in the footwear industry. 
Number of staff: 800+
Number of staff who are ASTM members: 4 
Trading area: Global

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