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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 8, 2004

Redesign helps medical walking boot step into international market

by Linda Charles

A medical walking boot marketed by Brown Medical Industries, Spirit Lake, is doing well in the international market, thanks to redesign help from Iowa State University.

Company president and CEO Ivan Brown said the original removable walking boot the company sold needed modifications . (The boot is used to treat lower leg stress fractures.)

"Our device was not selling well," Brown said. "We decided to redesign the boot to incorporate some features preferred by physicians, while at the same time retaining some features that were unique to the device."

That's where Iowa State came in. An engineering team at the Center for Industrial Research and Service (CIRAS) worked with Brown Medical staff on "reverse engineering" the boot, a process that analyzes the relationships among components in an existing product and generates digital files of an improved product.

The next stop was the CIRAS rapid prototyping modeling facilities to generate a physical model of the new boot. Finally, the product was tested and evaluated, and then put into mass production.

"CIRAS responded to our design need quickly and enabled us to accelerate the design process by providing a testable prototype for finalizing our design parameters," Brown said.

An added bonus, Brown said, is that while the redesigned removable walking boot has had "modest success" in the United States, it is selling very well in the international market.