The 'Jimmy Choos' of horseshoes

Story highlights

  • An Australian company says it can manufacture a horseshoe made of titanium
  • Weighing less than traditional aluminum horseshoes, horses can potentially run faster
  • Advances in 3-D scanning helped to deliver the final product, the firm says
  • A set of four shoes costs about $560 and one version was made in purple

They are being billed as the Jimmy Choos of horseshoes but it's more than just the design that will appeal to jockeys and trainers.

Australian company CSIRO Titanium Technologies claims to have built a lighter horseshoe by using titanium rather than the traditional cast aluminum.

It says the shoe can be up to 100 grams lighter, which could mean that horses run faster in races.

Now, 100 grams might not sound like much but as Clive Woodward -- given a knighthood after coaching England to glory at the 2003 rugby world cup -- says, such small margins can make the biggest of difference.

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And whereas a pair of shoes made by Jimmy Choo can fetch more than $3,200, a set of four titanium horseshoes costs a mere $560.

"We are aiming to build confidence with the horse and the racing team," John Barnes, a titanium expert with CSIRO Titanium Technologies, told CNN in an email. "We still believe we can take more weight out."

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In producing the titanium model, scientists scanned a horse's hooves using a hand-held device before formulating the design with software, CSIRO said in a news release with a headline referring to the famous Malaysian-born designer.

"Four of the customized kicks were printed within only a few hours!" according to CSIRO.

"It was a team decision when we were trying get people to understand the potential of additive manufacturing and how you don't have to be an expert designer," said Barnes.

"Advances in 3-D scanning provide an easy, affordable way to get a customized object and still have ultimate design flexibility.

"There are so many ways we can use 3-D titanium printing."

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Richard Perham, a senior jockey coach at the British Racing School in Newmarket, England, said the new technology has potential.

"My job as a jockey coach is to get the riders to understand more about making finer points count," Perham, a flat jockey for 16 years prior to retiring, told CNN. "So if you add all those little points up and all those little 100 grams up, then I think there would be an advantage.

"Every bit helps."