In Step With the Design Process – Sofia Hruby

As much fun as researching and writing up a report is (wink, wink) prototyping is one of my favorite parts of the design process because it involves more hands on work.  SEAS design has made progress in the building process.  We ordered several shoe inserts from Amazon and have been taking them apart and using them to create our new and improved foot insole to prevent and reduce the pain caused by plantar fasciitis.  To give an in depth description of how the prototype has come along, I’m going to highlight each aspect of the insole thus far and then explain what more we hope to add in the last few work days of the semester.

The Base – Our school regularly practices yoga (once a week) and sometimes the mats we used get worn and torn and no longer can be used for sun salutations.  SEAS decided to upcycle one of these mats and use it as the very base of our foot insole.  I traced Stephanie’s foot (women’s 7) which is an average size for a female.  Next, I cut out the footprint using an x-acto knife and cutting board.

The Heel – Based on our research, to keep the plantar fascia from becoming irritated or inflamed, a raised heel is an important component of the shoe insert.  A higher heel keeps the tendon loose and less likely to cause pain.  On top of the yoga mat base, we glued two layers on top to achieve the raised heel.  The bottom layer which sits on top of the yoga mat, is another layer of the mat with a gel oval in the center.  The gel oval was cut out from the heel of a Dr. Scholl’s insert the SEAS team purchased.  On top of this layer is more of the gel wave material (see picture for visual).

example of gel wave material (image from http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Gel-Heel-Cushion-massaging-Heel-Pads-Cups-Shock-absorbrion-Shoes-Inserts-free-shipping/379795844.html)
example of gel wave material (image from http://www.aliexpress.com/item/Gel-Heel-Cushion-massaging-Heel-Pads-Cups-Shock-absorbrion-Shoes-Inserts-free-shipping/379795844.html)

The Arch – It is critical to support the arch of the foot.  An unsupported arch leads to more foot problems such as flat feet.  Eliza and Stephanie cut out strips from the purchased shoe inserts.  Stephanie arranged and glued the strips to provide arch support.  We clamped the parts we glued together so they would dry by the time we got back to prototyping.

The Future – For the most part, our current design is based off of the design we made on paper and 3D modeling software.  Adjustments have been made as we see fit.  My only concern is how sturdy this design is.  Although we are only building a prototype, it is important to consider that our intended buyer (on the go women) will be using this foot insert for multiple activities.  So far we have been using wood glue to connect the pieces of the prototype.  Two other forms of adhesive include melting the gel plastics together using a glue gun (without glue inside) or a spray which Ms. Miesner recently gave us.

I’m excited how far our design has come and hope that it will ultimately improve the lives of many women.

Stephanie putting clamps on heel of shoe insert (original image)
Stephanie putting clamps on heel of shoe insert (original image)

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