Product Development Day: Part One

After establishing a basic prototype we began experimenting and developing the product to establish both our minimal viable product and to create a more successful prototype. Conducting these experiments enabled us to determine if silicone is the material we want to use to make our product or if we needed to pivot and change our idea/material.

Originally the silicone we were using was number 3481. The process of creation  requires both a base and a catalyst and is typically used for normal mound making.
We had a consultancy with a silicone expert who explained the negatives and positives of using this material. He explained there was a variety of types of silicone with varying properties. The harder the silicone the tougher it is but the more prone it is to ripping. A softer material that allows you to stretch it will be created from a platinum catalyst and not the traditional tin catalyst. He also advised us on the process, explaining that nothing that has touched the previous silicone should touch the newly bought silicone. This includes the containers the first silicon was mixed in and the wood and plastics moulds because the new silicone mould will not set. 

This new silicone we were advised to get is called Za13 and has high elongation potential. This silicone is mixed using a 1:1 ratio, because of a lower viscosity, as opposed to the previous silicone which was mixed at a ratio of 1:10. It’s translucent so produces a strong bight colour when pigment is added. This is important because one of the selling point of our product is its aesthetics.

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The first step once back in the workshop was to shape the plastic in preparation for the silicone. Different sizes, shapes and thicknesses were produced to explore the role of the depth of the product plays in how flexible and durable the product is. Once poured and dry the wood panels were placed on top and a second layer of silicone added. The wood was cut to a range of sizes to determine the optimal size for the pocket while not making the pouch to big or heavy for the user. A range of pigments were added to each product experiment to see how adding pigment affected the drying time and colour results.

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