How shoelaces are made.

There are three stages in manufacturing laces. In the example here we show an 8 mm wide flat tubular boot lace.


1) Winding machine - yarn preparation.

Most laces are made with 1/167 Dtex textured polyester yarn, this is a very fine yarn. Depending on the style of lace to be produced there will usually be multiple strands of yarn on each bobbin. The video shows three ends of yarn in the process of being wound onto each bobbin. This process is on a 4 head machine which winds a specific amount of yarn onto the bobbin and then automatically ejects the full bobbins and reloads four empty bobbins and the process repeats. The length of yarn on each bobbin will be around 600 metres.


2) Braiding machine - make the braid.

The bobbins produced on the winding machine are push fitted onto the vertical spindles on the braiding machine. This machine has 32 spindles. these rotate in a set pattern to produce the braid, in the case a flat tubular braid which is pulled off the machine by a set of rollers geared to the spindles. One set of bobbins will make around 500 metres of braid. Even with the latest machines, braiding is a slow process, the rate of production of this bootlace is around 1.1 metres per minute, so it will take around 8 to 9 hours for the yarn on the bobbins to be converted into the braid

 


3) Tagging machine - convert the braid into laces

The ends of shoelaces are called aglets (or aiglets). The end is a piece of acetate strip usually around 0.25mm thickness.

The work is done in a tool block which consists of four semi circular forming dies which are the diameter of the finished aglet. The dies are heated.

The operation sequence is a) feed to length, b) wet the braid with acetone, c) feed a preset length of acetate into the tool block d) close the dies e) the acetone causes the acetate to soften on contact making it sticky, the heat in the block causes the acetone to almost instantly vaporize so bonding the sticky acetate to the lace. The bonded strip is the sheared into two equal pieces, which become the back end of one lace and the front end of the next lace f) the dies then open and the shoelace is released. The whole operation takes between one and two seconds.

 


The laces are allowed to air dry for a short while, after which the laces are quantified and packaged according to the customers requirements.