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Michelin Branches Out

High Traction Shoes? Sunflower Tires?

by on Oct.21, 2010

Who says sunflower oil is just for cooking? Michelin is using it in its new tire line, Helios.

Anyone familiar with Bibendum, the friendly, if overweight, mascot for Michelin, the French tire giant, knows he’s made of an assortment of the maker’s tires.  But have you ever wondered what are on his feet?

Michelin is revising its line of footwear, with four new models, each equipped with slightly different high-traction rubber soles.  The reason?  More than 104 million lost work days due to slip-and-fall accidents in the workplace in North America.

Meanwhile, the maker is pushing further into sustainable technology with a new tire that makes use of sunflower oil.

Michelin’s standard shoe, called Hospitality, has a uniform sole pattern and is designed for workers who have to deal with dry, oily or wet surfaces such as auto repair shops, dealerships, or tire stores.  It’s available as either a lace-up or a slip-on.  This model is also recommended for culinary workers.

The other three styles, Light Industrial, for dry or dusty conditions, Industrial, for wet and chemical environments, and Heavy Industrial, for hazardous, abrasive and low-traction environments, are high-tops. each having a sole pattern and rubber composition suited to the job conditions.  The Light Industrial has a hardened toe box, and the Heavy Industrial model has a large toe shield over the laces for extra protection.

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Michelin says their shoes, each festooned with the Michelin logo are actually made for them by Rocky Brands.

The other new wrinkle at Michelin in the Primacy MXM4 luxury-car tire, which uses the same sunflower oil common in today’s light cooking recipes to create a new “helio” rubber compound that delivers higher performance than the outgoing Pilot tire.