Taiwanese startup AP Plasma has developed AI-base low-temperature air plasma technology for use in automated surface bonding of soles to shoes, according to company chairman and president Jango Chang.
The automated surface bonding technology, by virtue of integrating AI, air plasma technology, 3D sensing and robotic arms, replaces traditional use of toxic glue in bonding and labor input, with average time taken in making a pair of shoes reduced from one minute to 10 seconds, Chang said.
While air plasma technology has been used in shoe making, the production efficiency hinges on integration of AI, 3D sensing and robotic arms equipped with air plasma aurora heads, Chang noted. AP Plasma has integrated hardware and software concerned in developing low-temperature air plasma bonding equipment, Chang indicated. For example, 3D sensing and AI algorithms can estimate optimal routes of sole bonding, with such data transferred to robotic arms via software-based communication, Chang said.
AP Plasm, founded in 2017, initially uses the AI-based low-temperature air plasma technology in shoemaking because global demand for shoes reaches nearly 24 billion pairs a year, and shoemakers face increasing pressure in environmental protection from their clients such as Nike, who demands low-pollution manufacturing processes, Chang explained.
AP Plasma's low-temperature air plasma bonding equipment reportedly has drawn interests from Pou Chen, the largest Taiwan-based shoemaker and an OEM for Nike. Besides, Nike has listed AP Plasma as a candidate supplier in the future, Chang noted.
AP Plasma chairman and president Jango Chang (left)
Photo: Chloe Liao, Digitimes, January 2020