Skapapriset is Sweden’s largest and most prestigious innovation prize. It has been awarded every year since 1986, and the winner can call him- or herself a Swedish champion in innovation. Shings Basic Trainer won the SKAPA Foundation’s “Swedish Innovation Award” for the Gävleborg region in 2014. Svensk Konstruktionstjänst is excited to be a part of this success.
“As an innovator, it’s extremely important to surround yourself with people who are not only creative, but also perceptive – people who can keep abreast of the possibilities and who don’t back down in the face of difficulties along the way. Creative professionals like this can be found at Svensk Konstruktionstjänst!” says founder and CEO of Shings, Marina Nylund.
From vision to finished product
The history behind the product began after summer 2011, when Svensk Konstruktionstjänst was contacted by Marina regarding an idea for new horseshoes. The idea had already been born in 2006, but now the time was right, and the goal was to have a finished product in stores in time for the Christmas shopping season.
Marina is a physical therapist for horses, specialising in horse anatomy and the treatment of common ailments in the horse’s musculoskeletal system. For many years, she had been able to observe that conventional shoes affected horses negatively. The reasons for this harmful effect are not only that such shoes lock the hoof in a rigid iron construction that prevents natural changes in the shape of the foot, but also that it is permanently attached to the hoof for 24 hours a day. Many other professionals have confirmed this theory.
The basic idea was to replace the traditional horseshoe with something resembling an aqua-sock, that is, a flexible, thin layer around the hoof, which would protect against sharp objects as well as wear and tear, but at the same time must be extremely pliable. The shoe was meant to be worn only during riding/carriage-drawing. The rest of the time, the horse would be barefoot.
“My first contact at Svensk Konstruktionstjänst was Peter Eriksson, an exceptionally sharp design engineer. At that stage, when you only have a vision of the product, it’s extremely important to find a partner who communicates ‘on the same wavelength’ as you, who has the capacity to visualise the same image just from descriptions and simple sketches, and who has the right skills to transform that image into an advanced 3D-model,” says Marina.
The starting point was measurements of the underside of the hoof, photographs of the hoof from multiple angles, as well as simple sketches, descriptions, and visualisations of what the shoe would look like. Then, a simple model was constructed with the main task of fitting. Based on the simple model, conclusions could be drawn about the fit and which areas would need to be extra resilient. Then the search began for a material that would be able to withstand a pressure force of 4 tonnes at a gallop, at the same time as being durable enough to allow for riding on asphalt. The second version of the product had an outsole made from harder materials and an insole made out of softer materials.
The material that ended up being chosen can be altered in texture, from the hardness of thermosetting plastic to a gel-like consistency, while at the same time allowing for the same product to be created in several different compositions, which was exactly what was needed.
Subsequently, Shings have continuously evaluated and adjusted the product, while industrial designers and a fabric company have been brought in to create the flexible textile components. The shoe has evolved into a full-fledged trainer for horses, with similar functions and features as our own athletic shoes.
Challenges exist to be overcome
Several challenges were discovered through tests along the way. These were identified and analysed, and resulted in several updates of and revisions to the initially launched product.
About the project, Jenny Norrby, a design engineer, says: “The complexity of the product makes this project especially exciting, since the product consists of many different materials, plastic moulding and fabric. Collaboration with production is important, as the draft angles are not uncomplicated and a great deal of adjustments have been needed. We have had a great advantage in working with a client who is thoroughly prepared, well informed, and clear.”
The team are currently working on producing several sizes, as well as one model for summer and another for winter, with different wear patterns on the sole. For the winter model, selected parts of the grip pattern are enhanced, and the shoe is equipped with high quality studs specifically designed for this shoe.
“It is only in hindsight that I fully understand the complexity of the structure and the work done, first by Peter and later by Jenny. Thanks to their professional skills, I have been able to turn my idea and innovation into an actual, physical product,” concludes CEO Marina Nylund.