Made in America: OESH’s New CNC Milling Machine gets corner office

Our new CNC milling machine arrived and with the help of our good neighbors at Quality Welding, we got it safely off the truck and into its position in its “corner office” here at OESH. Thank you, Quality Welding!

Me, a little nervous, watching it come off the truck:

Gary, guiding it into position. My job here is to look out for his right foot (and OESH!).

Ahh… all settled in its “corner office.”

So, you may ask, what is a CNC milling machine and why do we need one to make shoes? Shoemaking requires a lot of specialized metal tools and molds. For example, the molds we use to make the cantilevers, which look like the wings of an airplane, are made from steel and the molds for the shoe outsoles and the lining above the cantilevers are made of aluminum.

A CNC (computer numeric control) milling machine is a machine that mills or carves into metal, the specific 3-D tool and mold shapes that we’ve created on a computer with a CAD (Computer Aided Design) program. With the help of an additional CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) program, the milling machine translates our 3-D files into actual tools and molds.

I’m pretty sure that 99.9% of metal molds and tools used to make shoes are made in Asia. This is really a product of tradition. When athletic shoes began being mass produced in Asia some 30 years ago, making molds and tools was an arduous, labor intensive process that relied upon cheap labor. But even now with advances in CNC manufacturing, most shoe companies still rely upon Asia for this work.

Not OESH. The milling machine is just one more example of how we are investing into local manufacturing and engineering. As far as I know, this is the first CNC milling machine in Charlottesville, VA. I’ve started reading the manual — it’s not too difficult to operate. It’s much like our CNC waterjet saw which took me about a weekend to master. No problem. But hey, if you know anyone who has CNC machining experience, have her/him contact me!

OESH wins SHAPE Magazine Shoe Award–Best for Everyday Wear!!!

This has been a banner month for OESH. Joining other elite publications in noting our ever-widening influence with a superior footwear choice, the April, 2012 SHAPE Magazine cover promotes SHAPE TESTED The Best New Sneakers, a story which awards

14 winners from 45 tested in the SHAPE Shoe Awards 2012

OESH was picked #1 (Best for Everyday Wear), and this is what SHAPE says on page 82:

“Carbon-fiber beams in the midsole compress as your heel and forefoot hit the ground, decreasing shock on your body. ‘My back usually aches after an hour-long stroll,’ said one walker, ‘but not in this sneaker.'”

How cool is that–our first year out there and OESH is winning awards! From cool magazines, too! No doubt, OESHers are recognized as being in…the Best SHAPE of all.

Capturing those firsts

Capturing “firsts” is frequently an art form. For example, this week I failed to capture a picture of our youngest daughter Zoe, on stage at her school play.

But I have succeeded in capturing some awesome firsts. This is of our oldest daughter Jayme, in my first gait laboratory back at Harvard, taking some of her first steps…ever. Jayme’s walking over an embedded force plate that, along with the motion sensors she’s wearing, capture forces during walking (I didn’t make her sign the waiver, shhhhhh…).

And here’s an OESHer taking her very first steps in OESH at the factory, amidst boxes of some of the first sole bottom parts and cantilever assembling processes.

In the same moments I missed a picture of Zoe up on stage, we both missed out on seeing Jayme, now 15 and a sophomore, playing in her first lacrosse game of the season. Apparently, we missed some terrific firsts…like her nine goals and four assists. Argh. Well, let’s hope there’s art in being persistent enough to see her play her next game!

Out with the old nursing shoes

In preparing a lecture that I will give at the end of the month, I came across an old picture that I’ve used in lectures past, to talk about women’s “professional dress” shoes. As I recall, this picture came from the Harvard Medical School Alumni magazine, recognizing the first group of nurses to become part of the longitudinal Harvard Nurses Health Study, which began in 1976.

This picture looks like it should be a lot older but then again, I remember growing up, not THAT long ago, that this is how nurses dressed. And I definitely remember having to wear a uniform hat that one summer my friend Annie Stawicki and I worked at McDonald’s.

I used to include this picture in my lectures because I studied shoes much like the ones in this picture in this study here, where I found an increase in knee joint torques relevant to the development and progression of knee osteoarthritis.

I don’t think I’ll include the picture in my upcoming lecture (which will be at NYU to physicians who are preparing to take their board examinations in physical medicine and rehabilitation).

Rather, I think I’ll share this photo of one of my favorite nurses, Sandy Milazzo, and one of my favorite physicians, Mary Evans, wearing OESH.

Runner’s World Magazine shows love to OESH–Doesn’t everyone’s basement have a chop saw?

The April 2012 issue of Runner’s World brings OESH to their massive audience with both a photo of Casey AND a two paragraph note. The picture was taken back in the days before the factory…this is the chop saw in our basement that Casey used to cut those prototype cantilevers. On page 84, under the heading of A SHOE THING and the sub-heading of Doctor’s Orders, RW printed up this photo from 2010 of Casey and a few of the earliest carbon fiber cantilevers (text follows):

After 20 years of doing laboratory gait studies, CASEY KERRIGAN, M.D., was frustrated that she still could not recommend shoes that would relieve her patients’ aches. So Kerrigan, who practiced physical medicine and rehabilitation, took matters into her own hands. She designed OESH (shoe inverted and spelled from inside out), a shoe with carbon-fiber cantilevers in the midsole that, according to its Web site, compress and release “in perfect physiologic tune with how the body works.”

Dr. Kerrigan gave up her practice last year to manufacture the Oesh near her Virginia home. “I don’t miss what I was doing,” she says. “In fact, when customers come in and try on a pair of shoes at the factory, it’s just like seeing patients.”

We really love the fact that writer Nicole Falcone took the care to not lump us into the same mix as the crowded minimalist-type running footwear group. As appreciative as we are of this wonderful magazine mention and placement, we’re not those guys at all. OESH is serving a far larger audience with a more substantial need, and it’s a blast to stick to our knitting, enjoy the awesome publicity coming our way, and know that all this adds up to more and more of you wearing OESH. Thanks again, RW!