Reggie Showers relishes life like few others. He’s a two-time world motorcycle drag racing champion, a pilot, a rock climber, and a certified snowboard instructor. “Every day I wake up is a beautiful day,” he says.
Reggie Showers relishes life like few others. He’s a two-time world motorcycle drag racing champion, a pilot, a rock climber, and a certified snowboard instructor. “Every day I wake up is a beautiful day,” he says. “Even when the sun’s not shining, it’s still shining in my life.” As a two-limb bilateral amputee, Showers has learned to take little for granted, embracing a life of adventure, nature, and...technology.
Until recently, it might have seemed counter-intuitive to think of a double amputee living as actively and fully as Showers. But technology innovators like College Park Industries, a Metro Detroit-based company, are quickly changing those perceptions. Today, Showers wears two highly sophisticated artificial prosthetic feet, which allow him to do things any other healthy person does.
Founded in 1988, College Park Industries looked at the prosthetic industry and asked “what’s missing?” The company’s original innovation, the Trustep foot, changed how the industry thought a prosthetic foot could function. Since then, College Park has consistently identified and invented products that celebrate human diversity through custom built prosthetic feet, sophisticated dynamic response systems, superior range of anatomical motion, and the use of high-tech composite materials.
“What really drives innovation for us is our connection with the end user,” says Mike Leydet, director of research at College Park. “When we see somebody who’s dealing with limb loss and some of the challenges that they confront, both physically and emotionally, it drives us to develop the best we can for them. We want to give them superior performance products. And that’s based on product excellence and the engineering behind it.”
One way that College Park fosters design breakthroughs is its use of a nontraditional approach to concept design. Anyone, not just the engineering department, can propose ideas.
“PTC Creo enables us to quickly take any new concept to the market.” says Leydet. “We take ideas or sketches, create 3D models within days, review the industrial design aspects, tweak them, and then prototype it all in PTC Creo.” The team shares digital 3D models or physical prototypes with customers to gather initial feedback to the different concepts.
“Sometimes we’ll look at ten or more varying concepts in a prosthetic foot design,” says Aaron Taszreak, engineering manager at College Park
“We’ll refine the 3D models and optimize them, making sure they meet the design requirements.” Then, the engineering team presents the concepts to the management team, which decides whether to pursue the product design or not.
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