I needed a way to apply moisture to the clothing to increase the efficiency. I wanted to avoid using a steam generator for several reasons. I did not feel it was critical to the function of the product; it added cost and most importantly it added complexity to the design, something I was determined to avoid where possible. The solution was simple and effective; a squeeze water bottle. It was the ideal solution, cheap and easy to use but more important, it allowed the user to interact with the product. The user could apply more water on the hard to iron areas of the clothing giving them a heightened sense of control over the process.
Collapsible Airbag Vs Solid Manikin
Early on in the development process, I decided for various reasons that it was important that the manikin for holding the garment was produced from a flexible material and not a rigid structure. A rigid structure would not easily accommodate different garment sizes and would not be able to apply the pressure needed to aid the ironing process. By making the manikin out of a flexible material it could be inflated to fit all size garments using one size airbag. Another major advantage was that the flexible material could be collapsed for easy storage. This was a very important feature for the intended market who predominantly lived in small urban dwellings with limited space. On top of that it also opened the possibility for designing a multifunction product that could double as a space heater eliminating the requirement for storage while not in use. This really appealed to me as I intended this to be a desirable product that people would want to own and display.
To avoid the complexity of trying to design an airbag to accommodate both pants and shirts/T-shirts. I decided it with be simpler and more effective to use separate interchangeable airbags one for pants and one for shirts/T-shirts to be expanded upon if needed to include fun inflatable shaped for other uses.
Initial testing using cotton for the air bag proved unsatisfactory. The lack of elasticity coupled with the high moisture retention meant that it was less than ideal for its intended purpose. I final settled on a Nylon/Elastane weave similar to that used in surfing rash guards. It had all the required properties; elastic, breathable, durable and crease resistant.