Monday - July 4, 2016

Design Innovation in Plastics: 2016 competition winner announced

Nottingham Trent University student gallops to clear win with innovative quick-release rug fastener for horses
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Annabel Burton, a second year product design student at Nottingham Trent University, won the 2016 “Design Innovation in Plastics” competition

Annabel Burton, a second year Product Design student at Nottingham Trent University has redesigned the buckle on the surcingle, or strap, that fastens round a horse's girth, and has won first prize in the annual Design Innovation in Plastics competition, headline sponsored by Covestro.

Annabel Burton has reinvented the surcingle buckle as a new, quick-release device moulded in thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) with a tempered steel spring.

The surcingle attaches to a horse’s rug in the same way as current designs to keep it in place, but quickly releases under stress, preventing injury if the horse's leg gets caught in the strap, and also preventing the rug from ripping. Horses can often get their leg caught in straps if they scratch or roll, and this can even cause a horse to break a leg which means that it has to be humanely destroyed. Annabel's design fulfills the competition brief perfectly for a product that will improve animal wellbeing.

It is the second year in a row that a student from Nottingham Trent University has won the competition which is organised by the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (IOM3) and the Worshipful Company of Horners. The competition’s main industry sponsor is Covestro, one of the world's largest producers of polymers and high-performance plastics, with sponsor support from market leaders in the fields of design and innovation.

Annabel now wins £1,000 plus a visit to the global headquarters of Covestro in Leverkusen and a placement at PriestmanGoode, the leading global design and brand experience agency specialising in aviation, transport and product design. In addition, she will receive an invitation to the banquet given by The Worshipful Company of Horners that is held annually at The Mansion House in the City of London.

Chairman of the judging panel, Richard Brown, Managing Director of RJG Technologies Ltd, said: "Having taken on the judges’ guidance from the preliminary judging phase, Annabel developed her entry and systematically covered all the areas highlighted to her for further thought.

"The material and manufacturing phase was well considered and thought through to produce a robust product at the right market value. The exploration and investigation process was methodical and well-presented and left us with no doubt that this product had other markets than the one identified. Annabel was a worthy winner in a very strong field of entries."

Mike Stuart, technical service engineer from Covestro, added: "This was clearly a product market which Annabel researched very thoroughly. She spotted a need and came up with a better product than is currently available. It is cleverly designed, has other potential applications where quick release is needed and it can also be scaled to suit."

Annabel Burton said: "I'm very excited that this competition has enabled me to bring my passion for design, production, animal safety and welfare as well as my extensive experience of riding and caring for horses into a commercially attractive product."

"Legs becoming trapped in surcingle straps was a particular concern that I had when I was riding and I know that surcingle safety is a big topic of debate among riders, and so I wanted to ease the problem."

"My material choice of TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) came about through lots of research and inspiration from other products that also require good fatigue resistance and high tensile strength. TPU has the ability to be stretched to moderate elongations and, upon removal of stress, will return to its original shape which is vital for this design as it enables the quick release of the buckle.”

The runners up:

Second place: Karl Martin, a third year Product Design student at Dublin Institute of Technology, with 'Petect', the first outdoor dog feeder designed to prevent dogs from catching lungworm, a parasitic infection acquired through contact with snails, slugs and their trails. Karl wins £500 plus a placement with Innovate Product Design, a leading invention development company.

Third place: Paige Hobday, a fourth year Product Design student at Coventry University, with 'Twoof Brush Ball', a toothbrush toy for dogs. Paige wins £250 and a placement with PDD, London, a worldwide provider of integrated design and innovation skills.

Highly Commended: prizes of £100 and placements go to

Ciaran Brennan - third year Product Design student at Dublin Institute of Technology, for his 'Unicomb' all-in-one pet grooming product.

Suraj Soren, second year Design for Industry student at Northumbria University, for his 'Medi-Play' dog medication dispenser.

Eric Tan, a second year Design for Industry student at Northumbria University, for his 'Crib Bite', a device designed to prevent horses from cribbing, a behaviour that helps to relieve digestive pain.

Alex Wyman, a second year Product Design student at Nottingham Trent University, for his 'PetStep' a folding, portable mobility ramp for elderly or injured pets.

Placements for the Highly Commended winners are with one of the following: Brightworks, a leading product design and development consultancy; HellermannTyton, a global manufacturer and innovator of products for electrical and communication networks, and RJG Technologies Ltd, which specialises in increasing the skill level of polymer practitioners, product designers and tool designers.

The finalists will also receive one year's free membership of The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

The prestigious Design Innovation in Plastics Award is the longest running student plastics design competition in Europe, having been established in 1985. It provides opportunities for design students to make a name for themselves with products that have genuine use and potential commercial value as well as raising awareness of high-tech plastics and supporting universities as institutes of excellence in this field.

Details of next year's Design Innovation in Plastics Award will be available on the award website in July: and also via Twitter, DIP (@designinplastic) which will post regular updates.

About Covestro:
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and as of the end of the first quarter 2016 employed approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents).

About Design Innovation in Plastics:
The DIP Award is coordinated by:
• The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), the professional body for the advancement of materials, minerals and mining to governments, industry, academia, the public and the professions.
• The Worshipful Company of Horners, one of the oldest livery companies in the City of London, formed to regulate the horn-working trade. In 1943 it adopted its modern equivalent, the plastics industry.

Find more information at:
Contact: Sylvia Katz, Award Coordinator,

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