This week was my first week back from visiting colleges and I had to catch up on group progress I missed last week. It was the first week I really got to work on improving our design after turning in and getting feedback on our design proposal. The product described in our proposal wasn’t detailed enough which ordering materials really opened my eyes to.
Initially, I was very confused by the criticism our design received because in my mind it was well thought out and
made sense. My idea was the primary model used for the final design, which probably contributed to my warped perspective of the product’s clarity. On Tuesday it was time to order our materials. Our group started out making arbitrary guesses at how much fabric we would need to create our prototype. As I listened to the group make assumptions about important aspects of our prototype I had a thought; shouldn’t we be using our actual design measurements to figure out how much material we need to order? I asked the rest of the group if we could wait to submit the order forms until we pulled up the design measurements and calculated the material needed. There were blank stares which quickly turned into wide eyes as we realized we didn’t have design measurements. Sure, we had the measurements of children, but the actual design needed measurements as well. We also had no idea how thick our materials needed to be, luckily with some research we figured out that our neoprene would need to be between 1mm and 2mm thick.
Today I had a second realization, or rather my group presented another design problem we had overlooked. Our combination of team member’s designs in the submitted proposal failed to meet customer needs. We ignored a fundamental goal of our product; to provide a greater level of comfort for the child, which will be done by making floaties less constricting. We had created a bigger problem rather than solving the existing one. By mixing upper arm, lower arm, and belt floatation aids we had designed a terrifying, constrictive contraption. We came to the unanimous agreement that the floaties should just be upper arm floaties with the same design as the full arm floaties, but without the lower arm and mesh elbow area. Now our design does a better job at complying with the customer needs.
The AutoCAD model of the prototype was also started. Toni and I will be working on it while our group is waiting for
the materials to come in. Once the neoprene and vinyl are delivered we can start work on the actual arm bands and belt. We are waiting to order the snaps or buckles that would be used to secure the floaties because neither option will really function as we need it to. I had the idea to create our own interlocking mechanism to attach the material. If we did this it would need to be modeled on the computer and printed on the 3D printer because that would be much cheaper than getting a company to make a part for us. I’m not really sure what the design for the interlocking method will be I just know it needs to effectively stay together with still being adjustable.
Another potential prototype problem we’ve run into is the actual creation and putting together of our floaties. None of us know how to sew well enough to properly make the floaties. The group is kind of in a disagreement about whether we should get someone else to sew them, or if we should learn to sew them ourselves. I’m predicting that these problems won’t be our last as we delve in to the world of prototyping.