The Boot Buddy
HPDD were commissioned by BootBuddy to design a novel boot cleaning product, launched March 2015 at the Sports Merchandise and Marketing Exhibition (SMMEX).
BootBuddy were successful in securing three Dragons on the first episode of the new series of Dragons Den, aired at 9.00pm, Sunday 24th July 2016.
I first met the Dhillon Family in 2012.
Arminder and his older brother Gurminder grew up playing a number of sports but mainly football and cleaning their boots was becoming a chore for the boys and a headache for Mum, Rashpal.
Arminder decided there must be another way… and at just 11 years old, came up with the novel idea of combining a water container, a brush and a scraper in one handy portable device, that you could take with you in your kit bag. Thus the BootBuddy was born.
Holding 300ml of water, the BootBuddy quickly and efficiently cleans mud from your boots by gently squeezing the body and lightly brushing. Each squeeze releases a small amount of water, thus the flow of water can be controlled with minimal wastage. A scraper to the rear removes mud from grooves in the sole or from around studs and a valve and lock to the cleaning head prevents unwanted leaks.
From Arminders’ early thinking, the design was taken through the initial stages of concept visuals, early 3D CAD model, a testable 3D Print on my Ultimaker2, further detail design and finalisation. The digital data was then handed to Gemini Prototyping to fabricate a blow moulded prototype, before engineering the initial tooling for production of the first batch of products.
To date, the BootBuddy have sold 7000 units and are now working on ways to reduce the current low volume high production costs.
First Blow Moulded Prototype fabricated by Gemini Prototyping Ltd
The brief was to keep the BootBuddy simple and as cost effective as possible without compromising on usability and aesthetics. We wanted to keep the retail price low to engage with as wide an audience as possible as we quickly realised that the solution, if positioned correctly could be marketed towards many varied sectors, not just the football/sports industry. Thus the design direction was a non-gender specific design that would appeal to all ages and work for many different people with individual needs. This included dogs walkers, runners, farmers, gardeners etc.
Ergonomic consideration and user interaction are fundamental factors in most product design processes and the Bootbuddy was no different. The sculptured form of the bottle and angle of the brush has been specifically shaped to enable a varied range of users grip the BootBuddy to hold and to allow a gentle squeeze for water release, irrespective of size of hands, giving a comfortable feel for both younger and older users.
The three following images are of the 3D Printed sample via my Ultimaker 2.
Though built in a biodegradable thermoplastic polylactic acid (PLA) material, the bottle part allowed for a small amount of flex as it was 0.8mm in section across the middle (thicker and thus stiffer to either end). When full of water, a gentle squeeze enabled the print to be user assessed effectively in real boot cleaning tests.
The front end was modified from the original CAD to fit an off-the-shelf brush that snapped to the brush holder and with small holes drilled through, the brush dispensed the water with surprising regularity and ease for a 3D print.
The final image is a detail of the usable thread to the rear end and though this was not completely water tight, it sealed the bottle enough to allow for testing and refilling.
BootBuddy first batch production samples with added and enhanced logo which doubles as the grip and finger position indicator.
Main intro image, the Dragons Den image and the image above © Copyright: Boot Buddy Ltd 2016