Reinventing the Hammer: OSU Students Bring Their Skills to Soft Star
Elf Erica (or as I like to call her, Elfrica) has the most physically demanding job at Soft Star. As our expert barger, it's her job to make Vibram soles stick to the bottom of our RunAmocs. While this involves a lot of gluing and trimming, it also requires a good bit of hammering to get the soles attached neatly and securely. You wouldn't guess it from her tiny frame, but that girl can pound shoes for hours while everyone else in our shop poops out after about 20 minutes.
Hammering has always been the most strenuous and time-consuming part of our shoemaking process. With the growing popularity of our RunAmocs, we've realized the need to make the task a little more practical and efficient, which means one of two options: (1) we buy Erica a gym membership and feed her lots of protein until she's ripped like Conan the Barbarian, or (2) we find a new way to secure the soles onto our shoes.
Enter the OSU engineering all stars!
Every year, Soft Star looks for opportunities to work with local Oregon State University students for class projects and experiments in real world settings. We recently began a collaboration with a group of talented mechanical engineering whiz kids who have made it their project to develop a shoe press to relieve Erica of some muscle strain. Curtis, Mishal and Tim, the brilliant trio, have become regular visitors to the Soft Star workshop where they document, measure and test all the intricate components involved with hammering the crap out of a shoe. They're now in the final phases of their project and we're anxiously waiting to see and test their new invention.
The OSU engineering team discusses plans with Larkin and Erica
Don't worry, we're not replacing our talented shoemakers with robots and your trusty Soft Stars will still be handcrafted. Erica will simply have a new tool to make her life easier. She's now excited to give her arms a rest, and I'm excited for the chance to finally beat her at arm wrestling.
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