Designers and manufacturers use product analysis to help them develop ideas for new or improved products and to analyse the work of other designers. Quality assurance is a system of checks and inspections to ensure high standards throughout design and manufacture.
Analysing a textile product involves asking three questions.
- Is it fit for purpose?
- Does it meet the needs of the target market?
- How well is it designed and made?
Designers will consider these questions when analysing both their own designs and the work of other designers. Answering the three questions above will normally involve an evaluation of the following criteria:
- The product's design specification, based on the requirements of the target market and the manufacturing facilities available. Does the product measure up to it?
- The product's target market. What are their needs?
- The product's performance: ie, how suitable it is for its end use and what are its aftercare requirements?
- The quality of the fibres, fabrics and manufacture: eg, how adequate are the stitchings, fastenings and seam allowance?
- The product's aesthetic appeal or stylistic qualities.
- The product's price. Does it give value for money?
- Any safety or moral issues. Does the product conform to safety regulations? What is its impact on the environment?
Designers often start by looking at the work of other designers and analysing the choices they have made. They consider how successfully the product meets these criteria and what could be changed to improve it.
In order to analyse a textile product you will often need to sketch the front and back views, work out and sketch the pattern pieces and work out the order of assembly of the pattern pieces.
Designers and manufacturers evaluate on an ongoing basis during design development and while manufacturing. It is essential to compare your developing work against the design specification and to make and record judgements, improvements and users' views.
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Development of ideas: modelling
Designers present their ideas to the user, client and manufacturer as models, mock-ups and prototypes.
- Model - a scaled down graphic representation of a design.
- Prototype - a life size working model of a design used for testing development and evaluation.
- Mock-up - a model of a product built for study, testing and display.
Model making can be a very quick and cheap method of producing a prototype. Suitable materials include paper, card, foam board, styrofoam™, wire and 3mm MDF.
Users, clients and manufacturers use models to evaluate ideas and decide how well they meet their needs and how best to make it. Models are usually 3D but they can also be 2D drawings or CAD [CAD: Stands for Computer-Aided Design - the use of computers to assist in any of the phases of product design. ] simulations.
Modelling with CAD
CAD can be used when modelling and offers the following advantages:
- Designs can be modelled on-screen and viewed from any angle.
- Reaction to outside forces such as wind flow and pressure can be modelled.
- Control sequences can be simulated [simulation: The artificial recreation of an event or activity, eg flight simulation software. ] before working on the actual material.
Rapid prototyping is used to manufacture prototypes and small numbers of production quality parts. Plastics, metals, ceramics and paper can all be used.
Rapid prototyping is faster and cheaper than traditional prototyping methods, but the machines are expensive and it is only economical for short production runs.
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