From taping cotton balls to a sock to sowing padding onto fabric and attaching a hard surface, we’ve truly built a stable design. We started out by brainstorming what materials would be best for protecting the joint as well as meet all of our customer and design needs. When we were assigned to build a prototype, at first we picked the materials that we thought were important, such as hard surfaces, thick padding and a stretchable fabric. We played around with our first prototype in order to see what worked and what didn’t. After testing it on one of our teammates, Stephanie, we discovered many flaws in our design and the lack of comfort/ stability. In order to further our research and investigations we were given the opportunity, as a class, to try each of our prototypes and give each other feedback on them.
We were open minded about the project and after hearing what our classmates had to say, it really gave us a better look on how people responded differently on our prototype. We were given feedback such as “change the fabric of the sleeve so it’ll make it easier for it to fit” “provide more padding in between spaces” “Pay closer attention to the details” etc. The sleeve overall affects the movement of the elbow overall and has to be made in order to fit a wide arrange of sizes. If the plastic covers a wide area of the elbow, it’ll lead to movement restriction and discomfort. We found that it was better if we separated the hard plastic and put thick padding in between them so it will increase stability as well as help players move more as they’re playing. Another thing we noticed was how the hole in the middle of our sleeve. While it helped with ventilating the muscle and keep the device from smelling/tearing it took a lot away from the design itself. Rather than being on the sleeve, a better option would be to attach hard plastic on critical areas around the elbow (such as the humerus, radius and ulna) and make holes in them. This way the design will be easier to put on and prevent injuries as well as the device from rotting/tearing. Reading book on the anatomy of the elbow helped us see the muscles that stretched and how we should be designing the device based on the flexion and extension in order to give the player more freedom while providing comfort.
After building an entirely different prototype form scratch and putting our design through various tests such as slamming it against the table and comparing it to our reference product we’ve began to make improvements based on the feedback and differences between current products and ours. We’ve began to sow materials such as cotton, polyester/cotton fabric onto the sock in order to provide stability and more protectiveness according to our customers/interviews. We made it bigger where the elbow area is except instead of a hard shell making it uncomfortable, we’ll replace it with thick padding in order to make the blow less hard.
Thanks to our project manager, our class got the opportunity to interview professional roller derby players, (Bullet and Grit) and how they saw safety gear played a valuable role in their bodies. When asked about elbow injuries they mentioned that smaller pads are less effective, falling back would cause many injuries “It felt like there was nothing between me and the concrete”. They talked about how bigger pads are more reliable because they can protect the elbow more, it’s all about “Can your skater trust that design to do what it’s meant to do”. There can be equipment that’s inexpensive but not effective, therefore people are willing to spend money on equipment that protects their body and prevents further injuries.
We hope that in the next few classes that we have to perfect our prototypes, the materials selected for our design will meet our customer needs and be a reliable product for skaters. Testing and sharing our prototype with our classmates helped open our brains to new ideas and possible innovations to our current product in order to make it successful/ improve it the best possible way we can. Along the way we’ll experience trial and error, but it’s what makes the experience fun and worth it.