Orrin Equestrian is developing the design of an innovative saddle that will reduce the loading on a horse’s back, in order to provide comfort, health, and performance benefits for the horse.
Orrin Equestrian had begun the development of a new saddle type, designed to reduce the loading on a horse’s back, and had won a SMART award to progress the design to prototype level. 4c Engineering’s support was required to help Orrin meet the SMART funding deliverables, to develop the design further, and to aid demonstration of the concept to future investors.
Building on initial design work carried out by a team at Strathclyde University, 4cE reviewed the existing design, developed the mechanics of the various joints and components, and produced a mock-up of the new design.
Some of the fascination of engineering is that it deals with the crossover between physics and real life. The world is a complicated place, so sometimes the assumptions that are made when thinking about the theory of a design are challenged when something is built. A lot of what we do at 4cE is physically build, then re-evaluate, to ensure that a finished product functions as required. Models can be built at component, sub-system or complete device-level, then be tested in a range of situations, to check that it functions as expected.
For the Orrin project, one of the connectors for the saddle was tested by creating 3D-printed moulds, which were then used to cast a whole range of the connectors in polyurethane resin. The hardness, size and shape could all be varied to see the impact that this had on the function of the saddle, and how other components were affected by the variation, and by doing mould printing, and casting in-house, several iterations could be explored in a single day.
By building items ourselves at a prototyping stage, we can also appreciate and anticipate challenges or efficiency opportunities for the full scale or larger volume manufacture of a commercialised product, in a way that is much more intuitive than a purely drawing based review.