Our team had a productive and inspiring feedback session with our Professor Annet and TA Amy Lee today. Annet drew from her recent travels to Ghana as well as her knowledge as a true fabrication and materials guru. Amy Lee also had some great suggestions for professors and projects we should look to for inspiration.
Some actions to continue our journey:
1) Make a list of native resources that our targeted user countries have natively available. For example, in Ghana, many people reuse plastic bags by sewing them together.
2) Explore and research potential materials which could include: plastic bags, recycled materials, native oils and waterproofing agents, indigenous materials, paraffin, felt, waterproof fabric, material used for sails of sailboats, tent material, inflatables, parachute material, raincoat material, liquid rubber, two layers of plastic, fabric that can be modified with stitching to enhance folding, and fabric that can be modified with some sort of spray waterproofing or treatment.
3) Investigate how different materials are folded in every day use, such as air bags in cars, collapsable strollers, and high-tech origami for space shuttles. For inspiration, http://www.pleatfarm.com is a fantastic resource, especially the industrial application collection.
4) Study examples of self-assembly and the types of materials that make this attribute possible. For example, Mr. Moss in Maine’s invention of the pop-up tent.
5) Examine how we can ensure sustainability. As Jenny Kennedy would articulate, it is important to not only think about what is there with the initial product, but the entire lifecycle of the product. For example, if the product breaks and needs repair, will it be possible to repair it easily? What material will be done to do so?
6) Consider an Open Source or DIY solution. Instead of manufacturing a product, could we create instructions or a kit so that we can reach a greater market and spread our idea faster? Would a modular design help us towards this model?
7) Play with the idea of specialization. Could our product be specialized clothing that serves certain narrowly specialized functions? Or how about a customizable modular product that can morph to serve a variety of specialized functions? Furthermore, do we need to alter our product for different users (i.e., a small child, a young adult, or a pregnant mother)?
8) Stretch to take it to the next level. Filtration of water is just as big if not bigger of a problem than carrying the water itself. In our target user base, there isn’t a ton of filtration technology available compared to what we’re accustomed to in the US. We need to research and explore the possibilities of incorporating water filtration into our design. This will likely be challenging to balance, while also maintaing the key properties we’ve identified (low cost to produce, durable + long lasting, lightweight, collapsable, easy to carry).
For next week, we need to have as many samples as possible. Kyle, Phil, and I have A LOT of thinking and making ahead of us!