Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TPUs Improve Horseshoes!

To borrow a word or phrase from an advertisement by a leading shoe insole manufacturer, more and more lucky horses worldwide can expect to be “gellin” thanks to a small, but innovative Ft. Lauderdale, FL firm.

Former horse trainer and entrepreneur John Filipelli came to the realization early in his career that horses run better without shoes.  But allowing them to be ridden, much less race, without shoes, wasn’t the solution, either from a practical much less a humane perspective.  Hooves are comprised of hair, and need to be protected, and of course, that’s why man has been shoeing horses for centuries, with metal shoes.  No other material has been found to be better.  Until now, that is.

Here’s What Happened and Why
Many years ago, Filipelli was challenged by an owner to cure a horse that would go off stride.  He had to do this within 30 days or forfeit his fees.   No matter what he tried, nothing worked, until he removed the horseshoes.  Then the horse quickly went back on stride.

Filipelli’s quest for a solution and an alternative to the old fashioned metal horseshoe.  The result is that today, Filipelli is the Founder and President of Nanoflex, Inc., a firm that has horse owners and stables from around the globe clamoring for his solution with the “gellin” horseshoe.  His firm has patented and now produces and sells one-size-fits all horseshoes made from a special polyurethane polymer sold by Alliance Polymers & Services LLC (APS), North America’s largest distributor and technical resource of BASF’s Elastollan® brand of thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPUs) used by Nanoflex.

“My first attempt,” recalls Filipelli, “was to develop a polymer boot, not a horseshoe.  Polymers at that time deemed possibly suitable for a horseshoe didn’t fit the bill in terms of processability, flexibility, durability and the basic ability to be affixed to a hoof, and stay on.  The boot didn’t work and it was fortuitous,” he continues, “that I hooked up with Roger Huarng, a former BASF technical materials expert and now a Principal with APS, the Continent’s only TPE-exclusive (thermoplastic elastomer exclusive) distributor and technical support firm for the various lines of soft elastomers.” He is quick to add that concessions and help by Huarng and the TPU supplier have added to the firm’s budding success.

Solution Found
Together, the two agreed on a proprietary grade of polyurethane that had all the attributes required for the application – consistency and uniform density across the shoe, toughness, durability, a certain level of flexibility or cushioning and at a cost comparable to a metal horseshoe.  The equestrian products are made entirely of polyurethane based on nanotechnology, no metal.  

Added benefits, the two found after the ideal formulation was obtained, a mold built and a custom injection molder was found, included:
1)     The new Nanoflex shoes can be applied in either traditional way – with nails, or with Equalox or Vettec, popular adhesives used for securing horseshoes.
2)     The horseshoes stay on longer than traditional metal shoes.  The durability of the polyurethane is comparable to aluminum horseshoes.
3)     One size, when trimmed, fits any horse.
4)     Pricing is comparable to metal shoes.
5)     And, the polymer shoes are reversible which can give even longer life.

Filipelli chuckles when he lists this additional possible benefit – polyurethane horseshoes can be injection molded in any custom color desired.

Slower Than Expected to Catch On, But There’s Great Potential
Centuries of using metal horseshoes have made customer slightly hesitant to give the Nanoflex breakthrough a try, but Filipelli and his associates see the tide turning. “With only our budding marketing efforts and our putting our limited resources into R & D and production,” says Filipelli, “we’re getting serious inquiries from around the globe, a lot by word of mouth generated.  Both individuals and firms in Europe and Australia have been particularly eager to try out the Nanoflex products, and report great results back to us.  Our approach has been that, if anyone promises to shoe a horse with our products, we’ll send them a free pair.  This has worked remarkably well.” At the present time, Filipelli is looking to build his network of distributors, dealers and retailers around the world.

Research Backs Up Claims, Growing Use
In steps to both verify product claims and industry skepticism, the company conducts ongoing research to verify that polymer horseshoes are viable alternatives. Among the results are lameness prevention, increased circulation, improved traction, increased comfort, an improved gait and faster running speeds.
The firm has developed the following chart to make other comparisons and show other benefits.

For more information on the new polymer horseshoe, contact: Marketing Department, Nanoflex, Inc., 30321-1/2 NW Court, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309.  Tel: 877-815-6337.   Web: www.nanoflexinc.com. Email: johnfilipelli@hotmail.com.

For more information on TPUs used in this application or for other standard or custom TPU applications, contact:  

Alliance Polymers & Services LLC (APS)
30735 Cypress Road, Suite 400
Romulus, MI 48174 
Tel: 734-710-6700  Fax: 734-710-6715 
Web: www.apstpe.com  Email: sales@apstpe.com

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