About this project
The Sparx Skate Sharpener is the first true in-home skate sharpening solution for hockey players. Comparable to a desktop printer in size and appearance, this automated piece of precision equipment empowers individuals to produce professional quality edges with the push of a button.
Through creativity and inventive thinking, the Sparx team has totally reinvented the process of sharpening skates. Over two years of contemplating, calculating, designing, and building has led to this innovative design that is easy to use and produces a perfect edge every time.
Operating the Sparx Sharpener
The Sparx Skate Sharpener has been designed with ease of use in mind. To sharpen a skate using Sparx, the user performs 3 easy steps:
Safe & Clean
Sparx was built with the consumer in mind. As hockey players and parents we knew that Sparx needed to be clean and safe. We wanted the owners of Sparx to be equally comfortable using Sparx in their their kitchen or laundry room as they would be in their garage or basement.
The Sparx patent-pending Slot Guards prevent accidental access to any moving parts inside the sharpener. The Sparx sharpener also has sensors which ensure that all access points remain closed-off during operation.
In The News
Click the HowToHockey.com logo above to see an in depth video review of the Sparx Sharpener!
The Sparx Sharpener has been tested by over 200 skaters including youth, collegiate, Olympian, and NHL level players. Some of the most elite and particular skaters in the world have tried Sparx and have testified to its accuracy and precision.
Validation from professional hockey players and instructors shows that even the most elite skaters in the world feel that Sparx produces an accurate sharpening. The motivation for building Sparx was however to bring this level of performance and quality in sharpening to families allowing them to control their sharpening schedule at home. Because of this goal, we also brought the Sparx sharpener to the youth and High School levels to get customer feedback.
We began at home. In October 2014 Sparx was used to sharpen the skates of 35 high level youth hockey players prior to a power skating and skills clinic.
Here are just a few the comments we received from our youth evaluators:
A recent trip to Stillwater, MN gave us the opportunity to show Sparx to their Varsity and JV high school teams. Again, the feedback was resoundingly positive.
Components of the Sparx Skate Sharpener
The Sparx Skate Sharpener is a state-of-the-art, automated skate sharpener that delivers a consistent, precision sharpening. Sparx achieves its quality and repeatability through several innovative design features.
The Grinding Ring
At the heart of the Sparx Skate Sharpener is a 40mm (approximately 1.5 inch) diameter grinding wheel which we call the Sparx Grinding Ring. The Grinding Ring is the component inside the machine that shapes the Skate’s blade into a concave profile so that the skater can glide easily across the ice while also being able to stop and make turns. Grinding rings are specified by the shape of their convex profile and will be available from Sparx Hockey in 1/16" radius increments from 3/8” ROH (Radius of Hollow) to 1 ½” ROH. Each Sparx Grinding Ring will sharpen, on average, between 30 and 50 pairs of skates before the Grinding Ring needs to be replaced. Additional grinding profiles, such as flat bottom versions, are currently being developed by Sparx Hockey
The sharpener’s mechanics are anchored by the skate clamp. Providing a consistent and even edge during sharpening requires that the grinding tool is centered on the skate blade and that each skate is consistently located directly over the tool. One of the greatest challenges in skate sharpening is keeping that perfect alignment even when skate blades vary in thickness. Most existing skate sharpening machines require difficult and time consuming adjustments when moving from one type of skate to another (e.g. player to goalie or even sometimes player to player). The Sparx Skate Sharpener has a patent pending skate clamp design that eliminates this issue by centering the skate in the same location every time. The Sparx sharpener will always deliver a precision sharpening on the skate blade, regardless of skate type or blade thickness. Also critical to the mechanics of the sharpener is the Carriage. The Carriage is the component inside of Sparx Sharpener that moves the Grinding Ring across the skate blade. The Carriage is also responsible for applying consistent pressure between the Grinding Ring and the skate blade throughout the sharpening process. A consistent translation speed, Grinding Ring RPM, and interface pressure insures that whatever profile (a.k.a. rocker) might be present on a blade is preserved from the first sharpening to the hundredth and beyond. It also insures a silky smooth finish that increases speed by eliminating the drag resulting from a less than perfect finish.
Control of the sharpener is handled by custom electronics developed specifically for the Sparx Sharpener. The internal printed circuit board contains a microprocessor that continuously controls and monitors the sharpening operation. A simplified user interface allows Sparx to be one-button easy. The sharpener defaults to three cycles (six Grinding Ring passes over the blade) and the user can optionally add cycles to remove more significant damage to the skate blade. The microprocessor also monitors a set of safety switches.
Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the Sparx Sharpener design is the patent-pending alignment system. Alignment of the Sparx Sharpener is typically performed once when the machine is first set up and then checked over time to insure that the system hasn’t drifted. Unlike existing skate sharpening machines, Sparx doesn’t require a skate to be sharpened to confirm and adjust the alignment. There is also no need to realign the machine when swapping out Grinding Rings or sharpening skates with different blade thicknesses. It has been our experience that Sparx will maintain perfect alignment for hundreds of sharpenings. Customers, be it home owners or pro skate sharpeners, will enjoy the “set it and forget it” nature of the Sparx Sharpening System. Shown below is a graphical representation of the Sparx Alignment process.
HEPA Filtration System
Risks and challenges
We've been working diligently to ensure a high quality and timely delivery of the first production run of the Sparx Skate Sharpener. As with any innovative product, we might experience unexpected challenges as we head into full production. We have taken careful measures to minimize the potential for any unanticipated problems.
The chosen Contract Manufacturer (CM) can make or break a project timeline. Luckily for us, we have chosen to work with a CM that our team members have over 5 years of experience working with. Our CM has a world renowned reputation for producing high quality consumer products.
Any international supply chain can be unpredictable. To help avoid any delays due to the lack of available parts, we have already begun pre-ordering components so we have the parts on hand ahead of the time when they are needed for assembly.
We have planned for rapid growth and have a solid plan in place to respond to above-plan demand for the Sparx Skate Sharpener. Our Contract Manufacturer has a history of meeting the demands of some of the most successful and popular consumer products in history.
Shipping from Suppliers
Unanticipated delays in shipping parts or materials can occur. While we have taken proactive measures to prevent manufacturing delays due to shipping challenges, there are some things we cannot control. To mitigate these risks we will be partnering with professional Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers to ensure the product is properly set up to facilitate clearance and expedite importing.
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