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A rush of adrenaline,

A flush of excitement,

Shush! One says to another,

A soft thud instigating collective sighs,

A whole nation rooting for a cause,

Cheering without pause as Winter ebbs away Winter Olympics is all we can think of !

And just like the mismatched verses above, Olympics’ primary tools of trade is a systematic amalgamation of variegated parts which makes all the difference (not undermining the determined talent of the representatives). Be it bobsleigh or figure skating or Alpine Skiing, countries worldwide naturally want to equip their representatives with the best. It’s not always about the ‘thrill and chill’ of winning, it’s also about the safety of the player. Therefore, safety checks are extended (and, even mandated) beyond the battle ground. With advancement in technology, stricter safety policies & standards and greater need for speed, the tool making company have come a long way from sketch, test, fail and redo era!

For instance, the earliest ice skates can be traced back to Scandinavia with bone runners tied to boots. While that was an event of A.D, years later Joseph Merlin from Belgium presented the world with the first ever skate, steel and all. And as inventions go, every decade and country contributed to the mean tool of trade of today. Modern day skates have evolved into a body of polyurethane, aluminum, plastic, leather….with variations depending on the sport it’s being used for. Strong wheels often translate into fast pace and this is the fundamental of skating industry.

Manufacturing process of a skate

A walk-through the manufacturing process of an inline ice skate would collectively draw your attention to the eminence of an ergonomic skate design. Another essential point to be noted is the involvement of multitudes for an efficient end result. While a company is dedicated to boot making, another maker of skate board also in tandem owns the business of in-line wheels of a skate (which in the end would be assembled with the boot).

The Body

The in-line boot is often made of urethane, a type of plastic, by way of using injection molding process. In this course, a dye of choice is added, the mold set for the final product to be ejected in the end.

The Details

Given the need for personalization, these boots would need to be lined with plastic foam or soft cloth. This should be in accordance with the player’s foot.

The fastener, tongue, cuffs, Velcro strap etc. are usually manufactured by a different body which then is attached to the shell.

The Mechanism

On completion of these two integral entities of a skate, the wheel and bearings are coupled with boots by riveting. A careful assembling of wheels in a row is often done in the end depending on the targeted price of the product (for a lower priced product, it’s injection molded together).

A seemingly lucid manufacturing process with many a stakeholder at play, manufacturing an efficient skate is far from easy. With processes such as injection molding and assembly and the challenge of keeping up with each stakeholder in this process; having a well thought design with minimal or scope for failure would prove to be beneficial for everyone in the chain. This would ensure a cost effective, less reiterative, optimized process….leaving much room for innovation, training and other value added activities.

DFMPro plays its part with comprehensive list of injection molding and assembly rules standardized as per market requirements. With a scope for customization and a mechanism to keep stakeholders informed at every phase of design, we strongly believe in nipping in the bud and recommending better alternates as Citius, Altius, Fortius is the name of the game! Whom were you rooting for these Olympics?

Watch out this space for design best practices …

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