CONTACT: Lisbeth Hoier Harpsoe
HOW MATERIALS TESTING GENERATES MARKET EXPANSION
ALLEROD, DENMARK — When the Danish furniture manufacturer OneLeg started the design process for its key product, a one-legged stool for gardening, it focused principally on functionality and ergonomics. OneLeg wanted to make a stool designed specifically to save backs and legs from the strain of gardening and so was born the idea of a stool with a curved foot. That curved foot allows the gardener to lean forward and rotate freely, providing a large working radius without straining backs or knees. OneLeg also wanted a stool that is lightweight and easy to carry around the garden, so it designed the stool with a cavity core and seat.
To find additional markets for its innovative stool, OneLeg designed a model that is taller than its previous model for such markets as automotive repair, physiotherapy and education. It developed silicone seat covers to provide users with extra comfort and the ability to lean forward even more without sliding off the seat. An anti slip foot cover was developed to prevent the stool from sliding when used on slippery surfaces or indoors.
Before introducing the new, taller stool to teachers, mechanics and physiotherapists, OneLeg needed to test the stool’s strength to make fully certain that the stool is strong enough to withstand intense daily use. OneLeg also wanted to determine that the newly developed silicone seat was flexible and rugged enough for daily use by both playful children and professional car mechanics. Last but not least, OneLeg wanted to determine the maximum weight the stools could support without breaking.
To determine the maximum weight the stools could support, OneLeg conducted compression tests using a LR30KPlus materials tester from Lloyd Instruments. The compression tests demonstrated that the new stools could support a weight of 270 kilos. Moreover, what OneLeg discovered through the compression tests was that even a 1,000-kilo compression test did not break the stool. It simply caused the plastic to redistribute into the stool’s cavity causing the stool to compress rather than break.
Then by simply changing the grips on the materials tester, OneLeg used the same test machine to perform tensile tests on the silicone material used for the anti-slip covers. Those tests indicated that the silicone covers were both flexible and rugged enough to withstand everyday use without breaking when added and removed from the stool on a continuous basis.
“Having the ability to use the same test machine for the different test types we performed on our stools and accessories was a major advantage,” comments Susanne Schmidt, owner of OneLeg. “All we had to do was change the grips when we changed the test type”.
“The built-in analysis software features video capture feature and a library of standard test set ups. All we needed to do was turn on the machine and push a few buttons. Not only did this solution provide us with high-precision test results, it kept costs down,” she adds.
From the test results, OneLeg gained sufficient knowledge to understand how the stools would respond to rough handling and when exposed to more than the maximum recommended weight. That helped to open new market opportunities for OneLeg and to offer its products in such new countries as the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland.
“Our customers are very demanding. In the classroom for instance, the stools are used by active children and their teachers. We needed to demonstrate that the stools were strong enough to take the same rough handling that schools typically expose them to. With our test results from the LR30KPlus, we had sufficient knowledge as to know how the stools would react to more than the max weight load and were able to convince key sellers of school and kindergarten furniture to add OneLeg to their inventories. Our consultation with AMETEK TCI, the results from the LR30KPlus, and the video capture showing the stools’ breaking point were critically important in securing this new business opportunity,” adds Ms. Schmidt.
AMETEK Test & Calibration Instruments offers a comprehensive range of materials testing equipment for testing plastics, wood, metals, rubber, textiles and packaging. It is a unit of AMETEK, Inc., a leading global manufacturer of electronic instruments and electromechanical devices.
To learn more about AMETEK TCI visit www.ametektest.com
Click here for a hi-res image of the Lloyd Instruments LR30K Plus Force Tester and OneLeg Stool