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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A designer must make sure products meet the product specification. The product specification should be directly influenced by the analysis of research. This will ensure quality of design and that the end product is fit for purpose.
A specification is a statement that tells the designer exactly what the product has to do and what the design requirements are. A specification should include:
- product function
- overall dimensions
- an outline of the appearance of the product
- user requirements
- details of the source of power (if needed)
- anthropometrics and ergonomics
- possible production levels
- legal requirements
- environmental considerations and requirements
Anthropometrics is the study of the sizes of people in relation to products. For example, chairs used in schools need to be suitable for the average size of pupils in the schools.
Ergonomics is the relationship between people and the products which they use. Anthropometric data is used to help design products to meet ergonomic needs. Ergonomics also considers the force a person can apply, for example when using a tin opener, or the pedals of a car.
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