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I Want World Class Technical Textiles: Just Make Me A Prototype, Right?
In creating flat knitted products, we are creating the fabric at the same time as our product. This absolutely NOT like making sweaters.
A common Problem: “Just make me a prototype.”
Many companies today just want to purchase off the shelf fabrics and are relying on their vendors for fabric quality and benchmarks.
Seat cover factory – Acuna, Mexico Approximately 30% to 50% post production waste of the ‘cut’ goes to the landfill.
Fabrics that have been laminated, bonded, or coated are not good candidates for recycling, unless they can be easily separated or stripped in an after process. Recyclers want all one fiber content type and the value diminishes or evaporates with the number of contaminates. Planned second life is possible, if the materials and components are designed for cradle to cradle.
The Product Development Process.
The product development process for Technical Textiles and 3D knit products has a very similar start to traditional cut and sew soft goods, or really any consumer product development.
We start with IDEATION.
Ask the same questions of any other product you might be developing.
· What problem are we trying to solve?
· How is this different or unique? Or a ‘me too’?
· Why is it desirable? (want/need)
· How would the end user use the product?
· What will the end user be willing to pay for it?
· What aspects of this product, would the end user VALUE?
· What other current products would they buy instead of this?
· What aspects don’t the current products on the market have?
· What do the end users like about current products? (or not like)
· Would the end user even consider using this product if they are already using a current?
· What would motivate them to change?
· Is this easy and intuitive to use, or does the und consumer need to be educated?
· Where would they purchase this?
It would be reasonable in any typical company that an assembled team of stake holders would discuss the item at length regarding all of the critical features this product must have for the enough of the end users in a target group to want to purchase it. This is product development. But not many companies actually put the process into a tangible format and document the steps and hand offs. In creating products from the fiber upward – knowing who is involved and when is critical to launching and managing a successful 3D or 4D knitted product. This process delegates and is inclusive.
We have put together a typical Critical Path for Product Development with an inclusive process and measures of success for developing robust innovative products. The Goals and steps are laid out with time lines that are estimated based on past experience. Steps and Timeline will vary with complexity of the product, testing, and clinical requirements for specific market. However, Goals and Measures are likely the same for all.
The RACIis also embedded.
Making technical textiles is Not, ‘Just make me a prototype.’ It is a very complex process that does not start with knitting. It takes every part of your company to provide input, business acumen, engineering know-how, materials science, production planning, operations, sourcing know how, sales, and a whole host of other unique and relevant skills sets that Fabdesigns’ team brings to the table.
We are building the product at the same time we are building the fabric for you. Everything is inter connected. We are not buying off the shelf fabric to cut and sew. Therefore, we have to develop the fabrics or most times multiple fabrics, and then the develop the product. This means building from the lowest building blocks of fabric in order to control the whole fabric.
This technology is a textile manufacturing format that precisely engineers yarns and fabric variations solely where they are needed for creating fabric structures and or functional variations for load or performance, which are mapped into the resulting products with a virtually seamless fit.
The knits’ structures are specially engineered for performance to create light weight designs that minimize excess materials and feature only the essentials. There is nearly zero waste.
We gave this presentation to attendees at our previous 3D Advanced Knitting Summit.
So, if this science of technical product development is something you would like to learn more, contact us.
Connie Huffa – Fabdesigns, Inc.
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Newsletter for manufacturing technical textiles & 3D flat knitting
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