4cE worked with Orrin Equestrian to develop a new type of horse saddle in composite materials, designed to distribute the load from the rider onto the horse’s back in a more comfortable manner. Building on initial concept work carried out at Strathclyde University, we built up 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.