Materials, Vinyl and Floaties: Oh My! -Toni Akunebu

Guppies Group Inc., among other design teams, took a trip across the street from Ann Richards to visit the local shops on Lamar to research and gather information for product design.  The purpose of the trip was to strike up a conversation within the groups to communicate possible ideas for materials, improvements on previous inventions and to allow the teams to gather an understanding of what will be a part of the end product. Guppies Group Inc. visited Hancock Fabrics, Leslie’s Pool Supplies and Target on their trip.

Guppies gather information on various arm flotation devices
GGI gather information on various arm flotation devices

Hancock Fabrics was a store that sold more then a 1,000 various types of materials and inside we searched for a fabric to allow our flotation device to be waterproof. There were not many waterproof fabrics but from the ones we saw proved to be cheaper then expected, like a clear plastic vinyl that ranged in thickness as well as in price (Starting price was at $8.99 a yard to up to $19.99) . Another possible material that could be used for waterproofing felt like the fabric that a fashion designer would use for a raincoat. We also noticed a ring of foam that could be a possible usage for the inside of the arm floaties. The foam would have to be tested in water to check that the foam is buoyant and could support a child’s weight and body.

GGI hard at work discussing possible design ideas and sketches

The next store that Guppies visited was  Leslie’s Swimming Pool Supplies to gather data on previous products. Leslie’s had a great selection (Even this super cool Shark Fin Flotation Device that wrapped around a child’s torso and allows the child to swim like a shark) and a large variance of the kid’s floaties that Guppies were able to gain a broader understanding on how floaties were created. We began to notice a pattern- that many of them were made from the same nylon waterproof material and that especially within in the same brands there were varying stages to the floaties based on the child’s age or the child’s experience in swimming , which we  found to be extremely limiting. We want our design to be a product that a child can grow up with and not grow out of.

The final store Guppies visited was Target to look at products on the market and look for potential customers to interview for input. Although Guppies did not receive the chance to interview for input, we did get a chance to view at  previous market of arm floaties and took notes for improvement. We took note of the varying price ranges because many families would shop at Target expecting cheap prices.

With the new insights and findings, we returned to the school ready to sketch possible design options and create possible material usages. Now in the upcoming week, Guppies Group Inc. plans on working on their Design Deliverable to express their final sketched up design for floaties.

Photo Credits:

Shark Fin


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