In 1996, Sommers was introduced to Flex Products (now JDSU) in Santa Rose, California. Flex had invented a remarkable light-shifting pigment consisting of inorganic chemicals. Typical pigments are made of organic matter, usually plant-based. Sommers was to become the first company in the world to "fashion engineer" ChromaFlair® into synthetic polyurethane leather. Like butterfly wings or fish scales, colors shift when viewed at different angles and light sources- shimmering iridescence only produced in nature, not by man. Flex discovered a method to biomimic this effect by coating miles of polyester film- a carrier for their proprietary mix- with dissolved inorganic molecules, ie, aluminum, magnesium fluoride, and chromium- then chemically stripping the coating from the carrier and chopping it into precisely-sized flakes. These tiny prisms miraculously reflected and refracted light into two distinct chromatic frequencies; one viewing angle could appear blue- another purple, green or gold.
Dearly expensive, the powder sold for over $6,400 per kilogram whereas common pigment cost under $300. To afford an end-product colored with ChromaFlair©, you would need deep pockets and a thick wallet. By the way, open that wallet and look inside- you can see ChromaFlair© in action. The numbers in the lower right corner of US currency (and a hundred other countries) is printed in ChromaFlair ink. Counterfeiters using even the most advanced copying or printing equipment cannot reproduce this light-shifting effect. The early success of this pigment soon spread to another market-Detroit, Michigan.
Ford became the first car company to use ChromaFlair© Mystic exterior paint on Mustang Cobras. The effect was dazzling-at one angle the car appeared green; from another, blue. What color would be listed on the vehicle registration? Take a close look at the exterior paint of luxury automobiles. Even the black will iridescent in sunlight exhibiting glittery flakes of cyan, purple, and green. Mixed with standard pigments, aluminum powder (to lighten the color) or carbon black, the range of shades is infinite.
But Flex Products (now, JDSU) did not rest on their laurels. The pigment was expensive but designers recognized the unique coloring agent had vast appeal to consumers. The unique color-shifting properties distinguished products colored with Chromaflair and made those products clearly defined as high-end.
The next industry to be targeted would bring soon bring glamour and prestige to both Flex and Sommers Plastic Products: Athletic Footwear. The marketing geniuses at Flex called on the top four sneaker companies- Nike, adidas, Reebok and Fila. Though they expressed interest in this unique pigment they referred Flex to their vendors of upper material-giant Asian mills. But Rui Parracho, advanced materials engineer at Fila, told Flex to contact Sommers Plastics, stating, "They are good with this kind of thing." Flex flew two men across the US to meet Fred Schecter, VP of Sommers Plastics. At Newark Airport's Marriott Hotel they withdrew from their pockets a small bottle containing one hundred grams of flake. Price for this tiny bottle? $600.00! Fred phoned his partner and brother, Ed, for approval to buy. Ed gave the go-ahead. Fred had two bottles sent to Sommers' Korean polyurethane mill. Two weeks later, with fortuitous timing, FedEx delivered a box to Sommers' then exhibiting at the Northwest Apparel and Footwear Show. Schecter opened the box coincidentally while Nike and Flex personnel were in Sommers' booth. History was made. Behold the first athletic sneaker made with Sommers' Chroma High Intensity Satinstretch: The Nike Air with Red/Gold and Gold/Silver Chroma Satinstretch trim. Then came Nike's revolutionary Foamposite, with outsole and Chroma upper molded in one operation. Other shoe and sneaker companies followed. (see Fred's blog re Fila/adidas boycott). Even straight-laced, comfort-shoe manufacturer, Aerosoles, took a design departure and hopped on Sommers' Chromaflair bandwagon.
• ChromaFlair® pigments in polyurethane featuring color-shifting, light interference technology
Copyright 2011 Sommers Plastic Products. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Sommers Plastic Products, All Rights Reserved.