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Contract research helps to develop a pioneering product

How SATRA is working hand-in-hand with a member company to design an innovative footwear component.

SATRA accepts many roles on behalf of its members, including providing assistance in the development of innovative solutions to a particular issue or industry need. This can take many forms and draws on the wealth of knowledge and experience held within the organisation. Examples include giving confidential, independent and scientific views on a new idea, producing data to support commercial claims and helping companies to find partners to exploit innovation. In some cases – such as presented in this article – SATRA may even get intimately involved in the development process and assist with the manufacturing process of a product.

The Schawbel Corporation, located in Bedford, Massachusetts and founded by Bill Schawbel more than 30 years ago, is a privately-held company which is marketed as providing innovative, patented consumer products both directly and through strategic partnerships worldwide.

Together, SATRA and The Schawbel Corporation have been working on the design and development of a new heated insole product incorporating advanced electronics and state-of-the-art ‘smart materials’. The product, called the ThermaCELL Heated Insole, is a lightweight and self-contained design, powered by rechargeable lithium ion polymer batteries and heated by a wafer-thin flexible element. It has a remote control that allows the user to change the heat settings during wear.

The combination of components selected during the development process will expand the product’s runtime and increase the ease of use. It will also allow for the insoles to be adapted to all types of footwear at the manufacturing stage or as a separate line of products. The technology is now proven, and the Schawbel Corporation is seeking other partners who are interested in incorporating this patented technology in their own branded product lines. Interested parties are invited to contact SATRA.

When it all began

 

Schawbel’s product was designed with the help of SATRA’s research team

The story began in 2010, when The Schawbel Corporation approached SATRA regarding flex testing a prototype product. Due to the nature of the product and the testing required, the SATRA Pedatron (STM 528) was chosen as the most suitable means of delivering repeatable and dynamic walking loads and actions. The STM 528 machine simulates the vertical loads, as well as the horizontal and shear forces that occur during walking.

"Pedatron tests quickly revealed the product’s susceptibility to the shear forces created during walking"

Although the vertical forces exerted during walking were of particular interest at the start of the assessment, the Pedatron tests quickly revealed the product’s susceptibility to the shear forces created during walking. SATRA scientists identified the points of failure in the product and suggested some design and assembly changes to combat these weak points. These suggestions were fed back to Schawbel, who implemented the changes, which resulted in a far more durable product being created.

From this first enquiry, a long-term relationship was forged. As a result, SATRA provides regular quality assurance checking of production batches and materials, support for the production process (including training of Schawbel’s quality team) and is also actively involved in further developments of the product range. SATRA assists Schawbel with custom testing and consultancy to ensure that the product is of the highest quality and durability.

How can we help?

Please email research@satra.com for more information on how to utilise SATRA technology and testing in your product lines, and to discuss ways in which SATRA can help you to find innovative solutions to your industry problems.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 50 of the September 2014 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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