Unusual Designs: RnD


I’m not sure if you guys know this but I am a very keen snowboarder. For anyone who knows anything about the snow we get here in Australia compared to the overseas snowfields, we don’t get a very good deal.

So what’s a girl to do? In winter, to get a bit of a snow fix, I volunteer for an organisation called DWA – Disabled Winter Sports – and we go up to the mountain to assist people with disabilities to ski and snowboard.

Why am I telling you this? Well, partly so you understand why I can’t meet on Saturdays during winter and also because I want to tell you a quick story about developing an unusual product.

One of the pieces of equipment we use is a sit ski; this is for people with spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy or extreme physical and mental disability. It allows someone with limited to no control of their body to enjoy the incredible rush of skiing down a mountain.

When I fist started at DWA we used to bundle the students up in clothes, put their feet in boot bags, gaffer tape them in and take three changes of clothes along to keep them warm.

There are two issues to think about with this set up: You get cold sitting so close to the snow, especially when not using your body to ski and; snow in Australia is usually wet and slushy, not the nice dry powder like overseas.

I didn’t think this was good enough so I decided to use my talents for good instead of evil and developed what’s now called the ‘Snow Worm’.

Snow Worm RnD

The snow worm is a waterproof, wind proof zip up sleeping bag that allows the wearer to sit without folds of fabric around their hips that may cause pressure sores.

They can sit in the sit ski, zip the snow worm up, Velcro it around their wast, pull their jacket down, poke their shoes out if they can wear them or wrap it around a pair of ugg boots and be warm, comfortable and dry.

The snow worm is also quite good for some lunchtime play when you can be dragged around the snow!

Why have I told you this story? We love using our pattern making brains to develop an idea into a product made of fabric.

So how do you put together your ideas if it is something that has never been developed before?

-If you have seen a similar item that you think you can improve on, then bring this along.

-Or a collection of items that you would like to use different elements of, this will help us see where you are coming from.

-Some fabric and a stapler or pins can help to get your idea across.

-Cut out some shapes and put them together as best you can. It will give us a starting point to work from.

-If you are good at drawing then a 3D sketches work well

-For some people a combination of all of the above is needed to communicate your unique idea.

In the initial meeting we will talk through your ideas and look at if from a design and manufacturing perspective so we are sure it can be made. Sometimes the reason it has not been done before is because it isn’t possible. We can work through this with you.

Something to keep in mind, it can take 2-3 samples (sometimes more) to develop a sample from an idea that has not been made before (keep this in mind in financially)

We love a challenge that uses our engineering 3D/2D way of thinking to develop unique solutions for a need in the market.

If you have an idea, give Sample Room a call on (03) 9940 1510 l to chat about it. An initial consultation might be all you need to bring your idea to reality.

But please don’t call on a Saturday in winter, I’ll be snowboarding!

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