Putting on shoes is a difficult chore for small children just learning what eventually becomes a mundane task for adults. When Tina Bagon of Kids Hardware Kompany took the time to watch her own children, she discovered that the difficulty comes from sliding their feet into the small opening of the shoe. Bagon set out to make life easier for the little learners. Her company’s solution, the Little Piggies shoehorn, worked flawlessly. But she found the removable fastener could create a choking hazard and took the shoehorns off the market.
To resolve the issue, NMSBA at Sandia National Laboratories matched her with Trish Selcher, a design engineer, who investigated wire-forming options to redesign the shoehorn with an integrated fastener. Selcher and her team used 3D printing to provide a model for testing. They also evaluated the material Bagon used to make the shoehorns in an effort to improve colorfastness and reduce odors. Mat Celina, a member of Selcher’s team, proposed a material that can retain Bagon’s original bright colors and has no odors.
With a prototype of the new design that eliminates choking hazards, Bagon is ready to reintroduce the Little Piggies shoehorn to market again. During the collaborative process, Bagon also discovered an opportunity to market her product to children with disabilities.