Solestice - a Tread With Soul

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About: Hi, my name is Aejis Yijun Poe, but you can call me AJ if you want. My pronouns are they/them. I enjoy trying different types of tea, and I aspire to have a cat companion someday.

Almost everyone has, at one point in their lives, experienced the pain of slipping on black ice. This could be a story that your friends constantly make fun of you for, or a silent embarrassment you keep to yourself (and your neighbors who saw the whole thing). Slipping on black ice is definitely something that conjures a vivid image in everyone’s mind, and it was for this reason that our team felt such a connection with Jenna when we first interviewed her. The first time we met our mentor, Jenna Fesemyer, was during a large group interview our class conducted at the Disabilities Resources & Education Services (DRES) building. Our entire class was present to hear Adam, Arielle, Jenna, Ron, and Ryan talk about their frustrations. Jenna shared with us the story of a time where she slipped on ice immediately upon exiting her car and lamented the fact that she could not even wear boots for more traction in situations like these. We found out that the boots heavy weight prevented Jenna and other prosthetic users from wearing them as their residual limbs are not strong enough to carry too much weight. During our team discussion the following week, we decided to try to find a way for Jenna to increase traction without adding to much weight, and Project Solestice was born. Solestice’s goal is to create an attachable shoe tread that can be used to travel in a variety of rough terrains, with our first focus being on icy terrains.

Supplies:

Step 1: Gather All Materials

The materials you will need consist of:

  • Baby Powder
  • Flexi-Filament (or other molding compound)
  • Hot glue sticks (approximately 10)
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Room temperature water
  • Shoe/sandal with a tread patter you are satisfied with
  • Velcro straps

Tools you will need access to:

  • Clear plastic container
  • Exacto knife
  • Heat gun
  • Hot glue gun
  • Measuring cup
  • Scissors

Additional materials you will need for the electrical component:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Arduino Uno
  • Conductors
  • Copper tape
  • Foam
  • Mylar (Arduino comes in it)
  • Code from tinyurl.com/potfoil
  • USB C cord

Step 2: Setting Up the Shoe

Get a shoe or sandal with the desired shoe tread that guarantees the best grip possible. After you have obtained the shoe, you will want to remove upper part of it from the out-sole. If you have a sandal, this can be achieved through using scissors to cut the straps. If you have a shoe, use an exacto knife to remove upper part of the shoe.

Step 3: Mold Creation

Next, create a mold. For this step, you will need the clear plastic container, popsicle sticks, measuring cup, room temperature water, and the mold filament. Follow the instructions on the back of the filament (or whatever molding compound you are using) container. Use the popsicle sticks to mix the mold. Make sure to mix until the consistency of pancake mix and work fast as the mold hardens after a few minutes.

Once this is done, you will need the out-sole and baby powder. Pour a generous amount of baby powder onto the sole and dust off the excess. This is crucial as it will allow the sole and mold to separate without it sticking. After this, carefully put the sole into the mold mix. Make sure to apply a small amount of pressure, but do not push too far so that the sole hits the bottom of the container. You will want to leave a small gap between the sole and the container. Make sure to hold the sole in place for about 3-4 minutes, and reference you molding compound container for the best results.

Now, here comes the fun part. Gently pull the sole from the mold. If, for whatever reason the sole is sticking, use the excato knife to carefully separate the two. Pat mold dry it will be a bit moist.

Step 4: Filling in the Mold

Plug in the hot glue gun(s), and allow them to heat up. To test if they are ready, try to see if a little bit of glue can be used to create a small bead on a tile or other heat resistant material. Once you are sure that the hot glue gun(s) are ready, begin filling the mold with the hot glue. This will be a very timely process. Make sure to put a little bit more glue around the edges so that the sole concaves a little bit.

Be sure to measure the amount of material you are putting in the mold. This is more easily done if you try to fill the entire sole before going for your desired thickness.

Step 5: Smoothing Everything Out

Now, it is time to use the heat gun. Please handle with care! Use the heat gun to create a smooth sleek surface for a shoe to rest on via passing the heat gun over the top of the sole (while it is still in the mold). Make sure to use the heat gun as little as possible, as it melts the mold and the plastic container a little bit.

Step 6: Creating Attachments

Next, you will be attaching the Velcro straps. You should have both short and long straps. The shorter one will be placed in the front and longer in the back. Cut the loop side of the strap and hot glue it to the side of sole. Repeat this step with the longer strap and place towards the back and heel of the tread.

Step 7: (Optional) Electrical Component

This step is optional for if you completed the electrical portion of this project. First, load the code into the Arduino. Next, you will be attaching the pressure sensor and LED indicator to the tread. You will want to place a piece of foam between two pieces of copper tape. Following, add connectors and seal with the mylar covering. In order for a flush fit, you can carve out a small pocket for the pressure sensor to rest in the tread. Finally, attach the LEDs to the heel Velcro strap with a hook, and you’re good to go.

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    11 Discussions

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    Eric Zhang

    18 days ago

    Thank you for sharing this guide. It's really clear to see how each step is done and what materials you need to get. I really hope to see your further steps of your product. I really like your idea of the electrical component. Maybe the tread would work better with that part. I think there is great potential for your product to be introduced to the current market. Good luck!

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    misiddi2

    19 days ago on Step 7

    Great job on your post. You very clearly outlined all the stops and the materials necessary. I think the hot glue was a very unique use of an item that is readily available. Glad to hear your prototype was successful and you got positive feedback from your user!

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    BriannaR17

    19 days ago

    Hey guys, this was a very thorough instruction. The steps are very clear and concise. I think that you guys would inspire others, not just prosthetic users, to try out this shoe tread. I wonder how the glue would hold up in hotter environments or after a long period of use. It would be intresting to see someone use a different method for that part. Overall, good work!

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    ngaertner

    21 days ago

    Nice job on your post! I think this a very interesting project and could have the potential to help out a lot of people. I really liked your creativity using hot glue and a shoe tread mold to make your product. I hope you continue working on this after our class ends and see where your idea goes!

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    mcymba2

    21 days ago

    This is really cool! I would love if you guys could take this any further. I see potential applications for bike tires and ATV tires to make them more suitable for snow and ice. Enabling summer-type items to be functional in the winter could be the vision here and that's awesome!

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    Rotam

    22 days ago

    I love this project, and I can see product serving many different needs. I wish we had more time in our Digital Making course becuase I would love to see where this project could go. Im curious if there is another material that could be used! I know you guys were in contact with material science professors, its crazy to me hot glue is the best solution! But hey what works, works!

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    seamster

    24 days ago

    Interesting! It appears this was done as part of coursework at a University . . yes?

    Can you tell me a little more about the course, and nature of this assignment?

    4 replies
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    aejisseamster

    Reply 24 days ago

    Hi, yes this was done as a part of the Digital Making Seminar (BADM357) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. You can find out more about the course at: https://makerlab.illinois.edu/courses/digital-making.
    Information about the projects from my class this semester can be found at: https://digitalmaking.web.illinois.edu/spring2019/.
    The assignment was a semester long prototyping process which was the main project we are evaluated for in class. We worked with UIUC's Disabilities Resources & Educational Services (DRES) (https://www.disability.illinois.edu/) and had mentors from DRES who were wheelchairs and prosthetic leg users. These mentors told us more about their lives and from those interviews, we identified opportunities for improvement in their daily living and based our prototype on those opportunities. My group worked on finding a way for a prosthetic leg user to be able to have more traction on their shoe without having to add to much weight (boots weigh too much for their residual limb to carry). This culminated in a weekend Make-a-thon event where we created our first working prototype and presented to a panel of judges about our prototype and ideas for the future on April 12-April 14. The course if focused around design thinking and 3D modeling and takes place in the Maker Lab at UIUC, a lab with many 3D printers.
    If you still have anymore questions, feel free to reach out again, I'd love to chat!

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    seamsteraejis

    Reply 24 days ago

    AWESOME!

    It's great to know the background, thank you. What a wonderful program!

    We love seeing students and educators using the site this way, and are always curious to know how what kinds of programs are using this platform to document their creative projects. Keep up the good work! : )

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    uimakerlabseamster

    Reply 23 days ago

    Quick question @seamster. Is there a way to categorize all the class instructables together, so they can show up as a group.

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    seamsteruimakerlab

    Reply 22 days ago

    Currently, the best way would be to make a collection and add each instructable project to it, then publish the collection.

    Collections are made via the dot-dot-dot menu that appears at the top of any instructable on the top right of the page (once you've scrolled down a bit).