The Bootclaw Manufacturing Challenge
Cary Marsh is no stranger to the challenges of design. An engineer by trade, she is the mother of three sporty boys who all play rugby and football and has spent many an hour removing mud from their boots during and after games to lessen the mud carriage on their expensive, ultra-lightweight boots.
Scrabbling around with other parents for sticks, car keys or finger nails to clean off mud, Cary wanted to design a tool to extract mud – and improve their acceleration, running speed and grip – simple physics.
The Bootclaw is a unique product, designed specifically to tackle the problem of mud impacting sporting performance. Its design and development was based on mud digging animals with the initial designs created with 3D rendering and visualisation. An early prototype was borne out of a pen lid and subsequently mocked up using five pen lids together.
Cary knew she wanted a single injection mould to keep cost down and her research for a manufacturer led her to Data Plastics door after she read the story of the Tangle Teezer hairbrush success.
Initial CAD drawings originally from another source were not designed with manufacture in mind, and various challenges were presented, particularly with the thick sections required. Following discussions with Nigel Tozer – The Design and Tooling Manager at Data Plastics, Nigel completely re-designed the product using Solidworks CAD software to be more efficient for moulding and manufacture whilst maintaining the requirements of the design brief. Prior to tool manufacture a moldflow analysis was also carried out to determine how the design would mould in simulation and identify and adjust any areas of concern
Cary commented ‘Nigel helped enormously with the design for manufacture. It was Nigel that had the idea of a hole in the handle which he recommended to keep the well thickness to a minimum with the option of putting the Bootclaw on a keyring’.
The Bootclaw business was started via a Kickstarter campaign. With a number of backers and just over £30K raised, the business was founded in 2015.
The end result is a simple, portable, pocket sized, lightweight tool with an integrated stud key to remove compacted mud from rugby boots and trainers. Its use now far extends from its initial aim and is now used worldwide by runners, hikers, golfers and gardeners too. It’s also a great tool for the elderly to clean boots and shoes.
The Bootclaw is designed and manufactured exclusively in the UK – a key selling point for certain retailers. A simple shiny product tag has kept the packaging down to a bare minimum. Now sold to retailers and via Amazon, Cary is keen to progress her business with the development of other products.
Among the Bootclaw followers are Gabi Logan and Robbie Savage via social media with coaches and players recommending their use. The buzz and enthusiasm around the product is palpable. On a practical level, keeping a Bootclaw in your bootbag, by the door to stop mud coming into your house, or on your keyring, to strip mud from studded, cleated or moulded boots after warm up, at half time, or before a penalty can give you an edge over the competition.
Furthermore – the Bootclaw makes a great gift and – children are much more likely to want to clean their own boots.