How Are Shoelaces Made?

Although shoelaces have been in your life for many years, you may have never wonder how shoelaces are made. Mastering those pieces of string is a milestone of achievement in a child's life. Whether you learned by making bunny ears or not, once you could tie your own shoes the world was yours. Athletes need to be diligent about their shoelaces, a loose fit or tripping over a lace can cost them the time it takes to retie, sore feet or a lost match.

Material. Shoelaces consist of the woven portion and the aglet tip. The lace portion can be made from cotton fibers, textured polyester, spun polyester, nylon or polypropylene. The Typical fibers used for laces today include cotton, textured polyester, spun polyester, nylon, and polypropylene. Aglets are made from hard, clear plastic and acetone is used to secure this to the lace.

Varieties. Shoelaces can be flat or rounded. Very wide flat laces are referred to as "fat laces." Some manufacturers coat their laces with a product that increases the hold when tied. Other laces can be made from elastic threads. These may look just like regular shoelaces or be manufactured to look like a tightly spiraled unit that can be threaded and then pulled tight, eliminating the need to tie.

Weaving Shoelaces. Braiding plants in the United States use circular machines that are equipped with 44 bobbins. One shoelace is braided at a time on these machines and then drops into a basket after woven. The machines can be used with different fibers, colors and numbers of threads to produce different patterns.

Adding Aglets. The tipping department is in charge of adding the aglets to individual shoelaces. This is performed with the help of a machine that first immerses the braid in acetone. A die that holds the acetate tape heats up and presses the tape at particular intervals. Now the long strand of woven fiber with pieces of hard plastic at even intervals is hung to dry and cool. Then the machine cuts the laces at the center of the acetate shoelaces.

New Technology. Some European manufacturers have access to fully computerized weaving machinery. These are not used in the US at this time, mainly due to the cost of revamping entire facilities that have been in use for decades. 

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