OMAX Waterjet Technology Is Key to Healthier Soles
Turning concepts upside down and inside out to make a better, healthier product is what OESH is all about. The Charlottesville, Virginia company has revolutionized shoe manufacturing by designing a responsive sole integrated with the rest of the shoe in a unique way that ensures the foot always encounters a perfectly level surface.
OESH shoes, the brainchild of Dr. D. Casey Kerrigan, are designed to utilize highly innovative midsoles to maximize health. Kerrigan, a Harvard University-trained physical rehabilitation doctor with additional training in mechanical engineering and biomechanics, understands that creating shoes for optimal comfort and health is all about creating true compliance under the foot while following a foot’s natural position.
“Most shoe designs try to control or correct the foot, and that can actually do more harm than good,” says Kerrigan. Traditional athletic and comfort shoes have midsoles made of foam, gels or air-filled bladders. These soles are designed to cushion against forces at impact, when the foot first strikes the ground. But biomechanical studies have revealed that the forces through the joints are actually greater later in a person’s gait, when the foot is fully planted, and that attempting to reduce impact force with cushioning actually increases joint stress.
Other design factors shown to increase joint torques are a raised heel, arch support and substantial side to side curvature, all of which are common in most comfort and athletic footwear. Despite research discoveries showing they were not optimal for human biomechanics, these design factors were not changed because they were deeply embedded in the shoe manufacturing process.
Armed with over 20 years of human gait research and analysis, Dr. Kerrigan set out to turn shoe manufacturing upside down, starting with the sole. Unlike other footwear, the soles in OESH shoes flex and respond when the foot is fully planted. This is the point when ground reaction force is greatest and the body is most vulnerable to injury. The OESH sole is completely flat, not just in the heel to toe direction, but side to side as well. And because the materials in the OESH midsole consistently respond to a person’s body weight with every step, they last much longer than midsoles made of foam which wear down very quickly.
Kerrigan took the word “shoe” and turned it upside down and inside out to create the OESH name. She launched the shoe line from a factory in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2011 and OESH soon found itself swamped with thousands of orders from women who were tired of their legs and feet hurting.
While her research and medical training led to the OESH concept, her engineering skills gave her the know-how to design and build the refined equipment that helps make the revolutionary line of OESH footwear. She considers her MAXIEM 1515 JetMachining Center from OMAX Corporation the “crown jewel” of her manufacturing process, as it accurately cuts materials ranging from aluminum templates to carbon fiber cantilevers and completely eliminates the need for secondary machining. The MAXIEM has always been the centerpiece of Kerrigan’s ultra-modern manufacturing facility, now specifically used to cut the intricate pieces for OESH’s proprietary 3D printing machinery, which in turn manufacture a line of beautiful sandals called the OESH Athena.
Critical machining materials make their way to the MAXIEM 1515 JetMachining Center that applies 50,000 psi direct drive pump technology to cut the product. Kerrigan enjoys the simplicity of the MAXIEM 1515, as there isn’t the hassle of tool changes or complex fixturing. Engineered for optimal efficiency, the OMAX-proven direct drive pump on the 1515 delivers more than 90 percent of the electrical input power to the cutting nozzle, providing higher cutting speeds than other pumps with the same size electric motor and power consumption. “If you’re going to cut a lot of carbon fiber, aluminum, or non-traditional materials, you don’t want to use a saw because that produces a lot of unwanted particle dust,” said Kerrigan. “Waterjet machining is clean, safe and efficient.”
Offering a small footprint of 8 feet 9 inches x 8 feet 2 inches, the MAXIEM 1515 fits nicely into the OESH facility and comes with an X-Y cutting travel of 5 feet 2 inches x 5 feet 2 inches. The 1515 is also a highly robust solution for OESH because OMAX uses coated steel covers to protect the machine’s advanced Intelli-TRAX linear drive technology. Kerrigan can easily control the 1515’s jet stream while it’s cutting thanks to OMAX’s exclusive Intelli-MAX Standard Software Suite, which is the core functionality of OMAX’s waterjet-specific control software. The software can calculate the precision of the velocity of a tool path at over 1,000 points per inch.
“When I was researching waterjet machines, I was amazed at how expensive they can be,” said Kerrigan. “I made the right choice with the MAXIEM 1515 because it gives me exactly what I need at a very fair price. Plus, OMAX representatives have always been ready to help me if I need it.”
OESH has made strides in the footwear market with a unique product and a loyal, passionate group of customers, or “OESHers” as they call themselves. Throughout the company’s growth, Kerrigan has been able to maintain an ethos of high quality and remarkably personal care for those who need her expertise. Kerrigan is willing to add capacity to her factory, including a new MAXIEM machine if need be, to give OESH fans more of what they want.