Left to right: Suraj Soren, Eric Tan, Paige Hobday, Chief Executive of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, Bernie Rickinson, Annabel Burton, Karl Martin, Ciaran Brennan and Alex Wyman.
A student from Nottingham Trent University has won the 2016 Design Innovation in Plastics Award with a redesigned product to improve the welfare of horses.
Second-year Product Design undergraduate, Annabel Burton, was awarded first place in the competition for her reinvention of the buckle on the surcingle, or strap, that fastens round a horse's girth as a new, quick-release device moulded in thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with a tempered steel spring.
The surcingle attaches to a horse’s rug in the same way as current designs to keep it in place, but quickly releases under stress, preventing injury if the horse's leg gets caught in the strap, and also preventing the rug from ripping.
Horses can often get their leg caught in straps if they scratch or roll, and this can even cause a horse to break a leg which means that it has to be humanely destroyed.
"I'm very excited that this competition has enabled me to bring my passion for design, production, animal safety and welfare as well as my extensive experience of riding and caring for horses into a commercially attractive product,” Burton commented.
"Legs becoming trapped in surcingle straps was a particular concern that I had when I was riding and I know that surcingle safety is a big topic of debate among riders, and so I wanted to ease the problem.”
Fulfilling the brief “perfectly”
The judges said Burton’s design fulfilled the competition’s brief “perfectly” for a product that will improve animal wellbeing.
Chairman of the judging panel, Richard Brown, Managing Director of RJG Technologies Ltd, said: "Having taken on the judges’ guidance from the preliminary judging phase, Annabel developed her entry and systematically covered all the areas highlighted to her for further thought.
"The material and manufacturing phase was well considered and thought through to produce a robust product at the right market value. The exploration and investigation process was methodical and well presented and left us with no doubt that this product had other markets than the one identified. Annabel was a worthy winner in a very strong field of entries."
The material of choice
Burton said that her decision to use TPU for the product came as a result of a lot of research and inspiration from other products that also require good fatigue resistance and high tensile strength.
“TPU has the ability to be stretched to moderate elongations and, upon removal of stress, will return to its original shape which is vital for this design as it enables the quick release of the buckle,” she explained.
Mike Stuart, technical service engineer from Covestro, the competiton’s main sponsor, added: "This was clearly a product market which Annabel researched very thoroughly. She spotted a need and came up with a better product than is currently available. It is cleverly designed, has other potential applications where quick release is needed and it can also be scaled to suit."
It is the second year in a row that a student from Nottingham Trent University has won the competition, which is organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners.
Burton now wins £1,000 plus a visit to the global headquarters of Covestro, in Leverkusen, as well as a placement at PriestmanGoode, the leading global design and brand experience agency specialising in aviation, transport and product design. In addition, she will receive an invitation to the banquet given by The Worshipful Company of Horners that is held annually at The Mansion House in the City of London.
The runners up
Second place went to Karl Martin, a third year Product Design student at Dublin Institute of Technology, with 'Petect', the first outdoor dog feeder designed to prevent dogs from catching lungworm, a parasitic infection acquired through contact with snails, slugs and their trails. Karl wins £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, a leading invention development company.
Third place went to Paige Hobday, a fourth year Product Design student at Coventry University, with 'Twoof Brush Ball', a toothbrush toy for dogs. Paige wins £250 and a placement with PDD, London, a worldwide provider of integrated design and innovation skills.
The competition also saw prizes of £100 and placements go to the following:
Ciaran Brennan - third year Product Design student at Dublin Institute of Technology, for his 'Unicomb' all-in-one pet grooming product.
Suraj Soren, second year Design for Industry student at Northumbria University, for his 'Medi-Play' dog medication dispenser.
Eric Tan, a second year Design for Industry student at Northumbria University, for his 'Crib Bite', a device designed to prevent horses from cribbing, a behaviour that helps to relieve digestive pain.
Alex Wyman, a second year Product Design student at Nottingham Trent University, for his 'PetStep' a folding, portable mobility ramp for elderly or injured pets.
Placements for the Highly Commended winners are with one of the following: Brightworks, a leading product design and development consultancy; HellermannTyton, a global manufacturer and innovator of products for electrical and communication networks, and RJG Technologies Ltd, which specialises in increasing the skill level of polymer practitioners, product designers and tool designers.
The finalists will also receive one year's free membership of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.
The prestigious Design Innovation in Plastics Award is the longest running student plastics design competition in Europe, having been established in 1985. It provides opportunities for design students to make a name for themselves with products that have genuine use and potential commercial value as well as raising awareness of high-tech plastics and supporting universities as institutes of excellence in this field.
Next year’s Awards
The competition next year will have a theme of ‘Products For Independent Travel
The Future of Personal Travel’. More information can be found here: http://www.designinnovationplastics.org/competition.htm