Dr. Hiles and The Development Of Sorbothane®

History Of Sorbothane

In 1975 – materials scientist Dr. Maurice Hiles was working on the development of a synthetic material that could absorb harmful shock. 

Dr. Hiles embarked on a series of bold and fascinating human experiments. He had electrical probes surgically implanted into his own leg thus becoming a human test subject. These probes measured the effect that running and walking have on the human body. 

The results of his experiments were surprising – they showed that the body can be subjected to up to 17 Gs of dangerous force when running.

Dr. Hiles began working on a material that could absorb harmful heel-strike shock before it entered the body. This new material would also need to possess excellent memory and perform over a long period of time.

Dr. Hiles patterned his synthetic material after something that has those qualities – human flesh. He called his invention Sorbothane.

Dr. Hile’s unique viscoelastic material was awarded a 17-year patent and its initial application included the development of shock-absorbing Sorbothane Insoles to protect the body from harmful shock.

About Dr. Maurice Hiles

Dr. Hiles was a professor of Biomaterials Science at the University of Akron from 1980 to 1983 and holds eleven U.S. patents, primarily covering energy-absorbing compositions.

Dr. Hiles received the John W. Hyatt Award in 1992 from the Society of Plastics Engineers. The award is given annually for benefit to society. His research into the energy dissipation properties of human soft tissue disclosed a structure very similar to an interpenetrating polymer network. This led to his synthesis of the first commercial simultaneous interpenetrating network, now called Sorbothane. 

Watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Hiles’ research and the development of Sorbothane.


Sorbothane as a Shock Absorber

Sorbothane distorts easily and recovers completely. It can cope with energy in more than one direction. Sorbothane has the characteristics of both viscous and elastic materials

A proprietary viscoelastic polyurethane Sorbothane offers engineers unique opportunities to attenuate shock, isolate vibrations and damp noise in mechanical systems. Sorobothane is a thermoset, polyether-based polyurethane solid that flows like a liquid under load while retaining excellent memory.

Viscous materials (liquids) deform under load and transmit force in all directions. They do not recover their shape when the load is removed. An elastic material deforms under load and returns to its original shape after the load is removed. The energy from a Sorbothane deflection is converted into a small amount of heat, which dissipates from the material.

The result is a unique system with the ability to absorb shock, isolate vibration  and damp unwanted noise.

Sorbothane Insoles

A one-of-a-kind viscoelastic polymer – Sorbothane was first introduced to the American consumer in the early 1980s.

Primary applications included the development of shock absorbing insoles for the athletic and orthopedic markets. The performance of Sorbothane Insoles surpassed expectations and helped to establish the premium insole market in the United States.

Since 1982 – Sorbothane insoles have been highly recommended by doctors, sports medicine specialists and professional trainers. For 40 years Sorbothane Insoles have proven to be the best defense against foot pain, back pain and impact-related injuries. Manufactured in Kent, Ohio – Sorbothane Insoles quickly gained worldwide recognition by providing comfort, helping protect against injury and delivering long-lasting cushioning.