In the past few weeks, the focus of our project has been “suiting up,” or finding the right materials and learning how to use them to make our prototype. I did sewing training with Ms. Mauser along with two of my teammates, Isabella and Sarahi. This was very useful because our product has multiple layers which will need to be sewn together, and the straps and metal wiring will need to be sewn into the layers. I have sewn before (started when I was around 12), so I had some background to the machine and techniques. The training was a good refresher, because I have not sewn in a few years.
Every class also took a trip to Hancock Fabrics to discover different possibilities for materials. We (ReJoint Inc.) decided (for the time being) to have 3 layers:
- Spandex (compressive layer, will be made breathable by adding small holes throughout fabric)
- Memory foam (Metal wiring and adjustable straps are attached to, 1/4 inch thick)
- Polyester/Cotton Blend (protective layer to prevent dirt from soaking into foam)
Recently our team, especially me, realized we have been going slightly in the wrong direction with our product. I was focused on a product for soccer players who had already been injured and were continuing to play soccer, when we were supposed to be creating preventative products. Despite this small detour, we are moving forward very fast and continuing to develop our product to prevent knee injuries in young women’s soccer, specifically cruciate ligament damage.
Another problem we have faced is distinguishing our knee brace from already existing, or currently developing, knee braces. There are a lot of really good products on the market, which is hard to compete with- especially considering our lack of experience and
relative lack of knowledge (which is lessening due to research and customer interviews, but still a factor). However, we have a very inside look on the needs of our target audience, and we are better able to design our product around their needs because of the specificity to our customers.
ReJoint Inc. also built a prototype (using a sock, Popsicle sticks, elastic, paperclips and rubber bands) to test our ideas for the product. First we tried a downwards facing triangle to protect the back of the calf, which did not work. We also tried a protective but bendable design with Popsicle sticks and rubber bands (I came up with it), which turned out to be very effective and successful. However, when classmates attempted to put on our product, it was very confusing and not well put together.
In conclusion, in the next few weeks we will work on having a more customer friendly knee brace that stands out to soccer players, using materials available to us and biomedical knowledge of the ligaments we are protecting. I am looking forward to seeing our progress.